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Title: Bertha's Visit to her Uncle in England; vol. 2 - in three Volumes
Author: Marcet, Mrs. (Jane Haldimand)
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Bertha's Visit to her Uncle in England; vol. 2 - in three Volumes" ***

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                          VISIT TO HER UNCLE



                           IN THREE VOLUMES.

                               VOL. II.

                    JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.


                      Printed by WILLIAM CLOWES,

                            BERTHA’S VISIT.

_Dec. 1st._--COLONEL TRAVERS, who every day tells us something curious
that he has seen in his travels, has been describing the cultivation of
the pepper vine in the East Indies. In July, at the beginning of the
rainy season, from eight to twelve shoots are planted round some tree
chosen for their support; as they grow up they must be tied to its stem,
and in dry or hot weather they are watered. They begin to bear in six
years; in ten, they are in full perfection, and continue so for twenty
years more, when they die. When the fruit is intended for _black_
pepper, it is not allowed to ripen, but collected while green. As soon
as the berries become hard and firm, which happens between the middle of
December and the middle of January, they are pinched off by the fingers,
placed on a mat, and rubbed by the hands or feet till the seeds, several
of which are contained in each berry, are separated. These seeds are
then spread on mats; and at night they are collected in earthen jars,
to preserve them from the dew. Two or three days’ exposure to the sun
sufficiently dries them, when they are put up in bags, containing from
60 to 120 pounds, and are then considered fit for sale. When the berries
are intended to produce _white_ pepper, they are allowed to become
perfectly ripe, in which state they are red. They are then well rubbed
in a basket, and when the pulp is washed off, the seeds are white, and
are immediately dried for sale. The vines, however, in this case are apt
to die, and in the province of Malabar but little white pepper is now

A good plant produces about 32 pounds: this is the highest produce; 21
pounds is the average. The _mango_ tree is preferred for supporting the
pepper vine, as the fruit is not affected by it; but the fruit of the
_jack_ tree, which is also used for the purpose, is thought to be
injured in flavour by the pepper being so near it.

The Colonel says, that the pepper plant is not a vine in reality, though
the knotted stem when dry has much the appearance of a common grape
vine. The leaf, too, is different, being pointed, and with deep veins in
it, all meeting at the point.

_2d._--Caroline amused us after dinner with a singular anecdote of a
musician of the name of Davy; though she was at first unwilling to
relate it, as she could not remember her authority.

He was the son of a Devonshire farmer, and when a little boy used to go
continually to a neighbouring forge, where he seemed to be strangely
interested in examining and sounding the horse-shoes.

After some time, the smith having frequently missed his shoes, began to
suspect young Davy of stealing them; the boy was, therefore, watched,
and one day he was observed to have separated two shoes from a parcel
which he had been sounding for a long time. He took them up and went
quietly off, but was followed, and traced to a loft, where he had formed
a hiding-place for himself, unknown to any of his family. There he was
found arranging his newly stolen treasure among a number of other
horse-shoes which he had suspended with iron wires, so as to form a sort
of musical instrument, on which with a small hammer he could play
several tunes; particularly one with variations, which he had often
heard chimed in the parish steeple.

The generous blacksmith not only forbore from punishing him, but joined
in a subscription, by means of which he was apprenticed to a famous
musician.--So much for genius.

_4th, Sunday._--My uncle read to us this morning the account in Exodus
of the institution of the feast of the Passover. It took place in the
beginning of the sacred or ecclesiastical year, in the month named
_Abib_, which signifies, he says, an ear of corn; but this month was
afterwards called _Nisan_, which means the “flight,” in allusion to the
escape of the Israelites. It was at this same season that our Lord
suffered for our redemption; and it is a remarkable circumstance that
there was always a tradition among the Jews, that as they were redeemed
from Egypt on the 15th day of Nisan, so they should on the same day be
redeemed from death by the Messiah.

My uncle then said, “many of the ceremonial laws of the Hebrews had a
direct reference to the idolatrous opinions and rites of the
neighbouring nations. For instance, some of the ordinances of the
passover, which was, you know, a memorial of the deliverance of the
Israelites, were strikingly in opposition to the most deep-rooted
prejudices of the Egyptians. Amongst that people, lambs and kids were
held in the utmost veneration, and never sacrificed; but the Israelites
were instructed to sacrifice both. The Israelites were desired to ‘eat
no part raw,’ which might appear a very unnecessary injunction, did we
not know that it was usual to do so in the heathen festivals, as we
learn from Herodotus and from Plutarch, who both mention it as being
customary at the feasts of Bacchus, which had their origin in Egypt. Of
the Paschal lamb, ‘no bone was to be broken;’ for on those occasions
the heathens broke the bones, and pulled them asunder with frantic
enthusiasm. Neither was it to be ‘sodden,’ as in their magical rites:
but roasted by fire, and not by the heat of the sun, which was one of
the chief objects of their idolatry. It was to be eaten along with ‘the
purtenance,’ that is, the intestines, which the heathens reserved for
their impious divinations. Lastly, ‘no fragments’ were suffered to
remain, because the superstitious multitude had been in the habit of
preserving them for _charms_; and they were, therefore, ordered to be

“The lamb or kid was to be slain in the evening; the Hebrew expression
is literally ‘_between the two evenings_;’--for among the Jews there was
an early and a later evening; the first beginning at noon, as soon as
the sun began to decline, and the second at sunset, which at this season
of the year, the vernal equinox, took place at six o’clock. Thus the
time ‘between the two evenings,’ when the passover was slain, was about
three o’clock in the afternoon; and this was the very time of the day
when Christ, the true passover, was sacrificed on the cross.

“What a striking analogy there is,” continued my uncle, “between that
typical sacrifice of the Paschal lamb, and the grand sacrifice of Him
who is called ‘the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the
world;’--between the deliverance of the Israelites from bondage, and the
deliverance of mankind from sin, by a final atonement, which for ever
closed all other offerings and sacrifices.”

I asked why they were desired to eat unleavened bread at this feast; and
my aunt told us that some authors suppose it was to remind them of the
privations and hardships they had formerly endured in Egypt, as it is
very heavy and disagreeable. “But,” she added, “I have also understood
that, in the ancient figurative mode, of expression, _leaven_ was the
emblem of hypocrisy and artifice; and therefore that eating the passover
with unleavened bread, implied the performance of the ceremony in
sincerity and truth. They were commanded to eat it with ‘their shoes on
their feet, and their staff in their hand,’ or, in other words, equipped
for a journey. It appears to have been, and indeed is still, the
universal custom of the inhabitants of the East to put off their shoes
during their meals; not only because that is a period of enjoyment and
repose, but because, to people who sit cross-legged on the floor, shoes
would be troublesome, and would soil their clothes and their carpets.
This solemn meal, on the contrary, which was intended to commemorate
their miraculous and abrupt deliverance from Egypt, was to be eaten by
the Israelites in the dress and posture of travellers, as if ready for
immediate departure.”

My uncle gave us an amusing instance of the punctilious regard that the
Jews pay to the letter of the law; which not only prohibits their eating
leavened bread, but their having it at all in the house. In Exodus xiii.
7, it is written, “Neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all
thy quarters.” On the eve of the passover, the master of the family,
attended by all his children and servants, formally search every corner
of the house with candles in their hands; but why with candles?--because
in the prophet Zephaniah i., 12, it is written, “I will search Jerusalem
with candles.”

“This feast,” continued my uncle, “was called the Passover, because the
destroying angel of God passed over the Israelites without smiting them;
and to pass over is a literal translation of the Hebrew word _pesach_.
From whence also we have the expression of the Paschal Lamb.

“The deliverance from Egyptian bondage was a specific type of our
subsequent deliverance from the yoke of sin, which we commemorate in the
sacrament of the Lord’s supper; and it is remarkable, that both the
Jewish and the Christian rite were enjoined as memorials of events which
had not yet happened. To all mankind the privileges of this great
second deliverance are offered; and let us remember that, like the
Israelites, we are but strangers and pilgrims here, hastening on to a
_land of promise_.”

_6th._--Mary asked Colonel Travers to-day why rice is called _paddy_ in
the East Indies. He told us that the wet lands capable of being
cultivated for rice, are called, in the province of Malabar, _padda_
land; and thence has the name paddy been given to the grain before the
husk is beaten off. It is cultivated in all the low grounds which are
periodically overflowed; or where the water can be regularly let in.
Sometimes it is sown dry, on fields properly ploughed and moistened
beforehand, and when the leaf is a certain height, the water is gently
let into the furrows; but in many places it is sown very thickly, and
afterwards transplanted. The general mode of preparing the seed is to
steep it in water, and then to mix it up with earth in a shed, where it
heats a little, and soon sprouts: when the shoot is nearly two inches
long, it is carried in baskets to the field, and planted in rows.

The operation of cleaning rice is assisted by boiling for a short time;
after which it is beaten in a mortar with a stick five or six feet long,
the bottom of which is shod with iron. But the rice used by the higher
class of Brahmins is not boiled, lest it should be in any way defiled:
it is every morning cleaned dry by one of the family, the labour of
which is very great, because the husk adheres so closely to the grain.

Paddy is often kept in small caves called hagay, the entrance to each of
which is by a very narrow passage. The roof, floor, and sides are lined
with clean straw, and the cave is then completely filled.

Colonel Travers is just like my uncle, he is so ready to answer all our
troublesome questions; and you may suppose that some of us ladies asked
him about the ottar of roses. He says that the rose from which that
essential oil is made, grows only in the valley of Shiraz, where there
are immense fields of it. The flower is small, and of a deep red, and
quite a different species from the _rosa indica_. It does not thrive
south of Shiraz, as the climate is too hot; and the plants which have
been brought to Bombay have generally failed.

We have had several rainy days, on which it was impossible to walk out;
though it seldom happens, my uncle says, in this climate that there is
not some part of the day quite fair.

The gravel walks here dry quickly, but nobody seems to care much about
wet or dirt, their feet are so well defended from damp; and my aunt has
provided me with all the comfortable preservatives from wet that my
cousins have, so I force myself to go out and to take long walks.
Sometimes we visit the poor people, to whom a little sympathy and
kindness seem to be a great comfort; and the school is so near the
shrubbery, that, unless the rain is very heavy, Caroline contrives to go
there every day.

When we are so much confined as we have been for the three last days, we
take care to practise well at battledore and shuttlecock; yesterday
evening I kept it up to three hundred. Sometimes four of us play at once
without any confusion; and sometimes even my uncle joins us. My aunt
encourages us to exercise ourselves with active plays; and if you and
Marianne could peep at us, you would be amused at the vigour and
emulation with which we perform Puss in the corner, and Friar’s ground,
or “turn the blindfold hero round and round.” After luncheon is
generally the time for these “laborious sports;” Grace, of course,
delights in them, and my uncle and aunt seem fully to enjoy our glee and
gaiety; for exercise and recreation, they say, should be mixed
sufficiently with all our studious employments. You will smile when I
confess that much as I like them now, I felt at first that these
“romps,” as I called them, were rather too childish: my aunt told me to
do as I liked; but, as I found that I only appeared conceited by sitting
still, I soon conquered these silly feelings.

I have nothing more to say, except that I have begun to read Rollin’s
Ancient History; for the purpose of comparing the sacred and profane
parts, and because I have some idea of endeavouring to make an
historical chart for myself, which shall combine those two objects.

_7th._--Ducks were the subject of discussion this morning at breakfast.
My aunt told us that the Chinese, by whom great numbers are consumed,
usually hatch them by artificial heat. The eggs are placed in boxes of
sand, upon a brick hearth, which is kept at a proper degree of warmth,
during the process; and the ducklings are fed with boiled rice, crabs,
and cray-fish for a fortnight. They are then supplied with an old
_stepmother_, who leads them where they can find food; being first put
into a boat which is to be their constant habitation, and from which the
whole flock, perhaps three or four hundred, go out to feed, and return
at command.

The masters of the duck-boats row up and down the rivers according to
the opportunity of procuring food; and these birds obey them in an
extraordinary manner. Several thousands, belonging to different boats,
may be seen feeding in the same place, yet on a signal, each flock will
follow their leader to their respective boats without a single stranger
having intruded.

Colonel Travers told us, that in a description of the south coast of
Asia Minor, which he had lately read, a duck of extraordinary beauty is
mentioned. The plumage is white, with orange and dark glossy spots which
are large and distinct, and in the males extremely brilliant. They fly
in pairs, and their cry is loud and incessant. These ducks chiefly
inhabit the cliffs of an island, and are peculiar to that part of the
shore; and the author adds, what Colonel Travers considers to be a very
singular fact--that, although the whole coast lies in nearly the same
parallel of latitude, yet several species of the feathered race seem to
be confined to particular districts.--For instance, at the western end,
there were multitudes of the red-legged partridge; the middle of the
coast was occupied by crows, and every hole and crevice in every rock
had its family of pigeons; then came the ducks, and when they
disappeared, the elevated cliffs seemed to be usurped by eagles. As he
advanced still further to the eastward, even the common gull, which is
so plentiful every where else, became scarce, but its place was filled
by swarms of the noisy sea-mew; and at the furthest extremity of the
coast, he entered a shallow bay which was covered with swans, geese, and

_8th._--Mary was quite triumphant to-day in our genius argument, and
produced two examples on her side, which she said were very strong.

The celebrated Dolomieu, she told us, entered very early in life into
the religious order of Malta; but having unfortunately resented some
insult and killed his adversary, he was condemned to die, it being
contrary to the rules of the order to use arms against any one but an
“enemy of the Faith.” The grand-master, however, pardoned him; but the
pardon not being immediately confirmed by the Pope, he continued in
captivity nine months, before he was released. By this time, Dolomieu
had become, as it were, a new man; the solitude and silence of his
prison, and the necessity of dispelling his inquietude by occupation,
had given him a habit of deep meditation; and he determined to devote
the rest of his life to the acquirement of knowledge. He hesitated for
some time between classical literature and natural history; but, at
length, decided for the latter, in which he afterwards made so
conspicuous a figure.

It cannot be denied, Mary says, that this is a proof that the mind may
be led by circumstances to any pursuit. She then gave us some anecdotes
of Baron Guyton de Morveau, as being still more favourable to her

“Guyton’s education was not neglected in the common routine of classical
and theoretical learning; but his father, who had a passion for
building, employed various artificers about his house, and young Guyton
insensibly caught a taste for mechanics. This, which might have been
considered as a natural inclination, was merely the effect of example;
and it was further excited by a circumstance that happened during his
vacation: at a public sale in the neighbourhood, an old clock had
remained unsold, owing to its bad condition, and he persuaded his father
to give six francs for it. The ardent boy soon took it to pieces and
cleaned it; he even added some parts that were wanting, and put the
whole in order without assistance. In 1799, that is, fifty-four years
afterwards, this clock was purchased at a higher price than was given
for the estate and house together where it had originally been sold;
having during the whole of that time preserved its movement in the most
satisfactory manner. He once undertook the same operation for his
mother’s watch, and succeeded perfectly, though he was then only eight
years of age. These details are sufficient to shew how impossible it is
to predict, from the whims of childhood, the vocation likely to engage
any individual at a more advanced period of life.--This little boy
appeared to have a genius for mechanics, in consequence of circumstances
attending his infancy--but no one has shewn less taste for mechanics
than Guyton de Morveau, during his long and brilliant career as a
chemical philosopher.”

_9th._--My uncle told us to-day a curious mode of catching fish by
diving, which is practised in the Gulf of Patrasso, in Greece, and which
is, he believes, peculiar to that place.

The diver being provided with a rope, made of a species of long grass,
moves his boat where he perceives there is a rocky bottom: this done, he
throws the rope out so as to form a tolerably large circle; and such is
the timid nature of the fish, that instead of rushing away, they never
attempt to pass this imaginary barrier, which acts as a sort of
talisman; they only descend to the bottom, and endeavour to conceal
themselves amongst the rocks. After waiting a few moments till the charm
has taken effect, the diver plunges in, and generally returns with
several fine fish. As he seldom finds more than their heads concealed,
there is the less difficulty in taking his prizes; and these divers are
so dexterous that they have a method of securing four or five fish under
each arm, beside what they can carry in their hands.

The effect of the circle formed by the rope reminded Frederick of the
singular manner in which pelicans and cormorants catch fish in concert
with each other. They spread into a large circle, at some distance from
land; the pelicans flapping on the surface of the water with their great
wings, and the cormorants diving beneath, till the fish contained within
the circle are driven before them towards the land. As the circle
becomes contracted, by the birds drawing closer together, the fish are
at length brought within a narrow compass, where their pursuers find no
difficulty in securing them.

One species of cormorant is so docile, Frederick added, that they are
trained by the Chinese to fish for their masters. Sir George Staunton
saw several boats with a dozen of these birds in each; at a signal they
plunged into the water, and quickly returned with a prize in their
mouths, which they never attempted to swallow without permission.

My aunt said that those birds were formerly kept in this country for the
same purpose; but the English cormorants were not so tractable, for a
thong was tied round their neck to prevent their eating the fish.
Charles the First, she says, had his master of cormorants as well as his

_11th, Sunday._--My uncle this morning repeated his advice never to
allow ourselves to judge of detached phrases or single texts in the
Bible, without carefully comparing them with similar passages in other
parts; and he added, that it was very unjust to charge the Bible with
the errors of its translators, or to ascribe the mistakes and
inconsistencies of human learning to the inspired original. “The wonder
is,” he says, “not that there are some mistakes, but that there are not
many more, and that of those there should be so few of importance. It
is, however, the duty of every body to make known those errors, slight
as they are, and to try to remove all blemishes from a work of such high
importance, as a correct translation in our own language. Words have now
a much more definite meaning than they had a few centuries ago; and some
words may then have fairly conveyed the original sense which is now
greatly perverted by their continuance.

“For instance, in Exodus iii. 22, it appears that every woman is
enjoined to _borrow_ of her neighbour valuable jewels and raiment, and
then to keep possession of them. But children,” said he, “should be
taught that the Hebrew word, which our translators have rendered
_borrow_, signifies to ask as a _gift_. It is the very word used in
Psalm ii. 8,--‘Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine
inheritance;’ and the fact was this: God told Moses that the Israelites
should not go out of Egypt empty, but that every woman should ask her
neighbour for certain valuable presents, and that He would dispose the
Egyptians to give them. And all this seems to have been perfectly just,
when you consider the slavery that the Israelites had been obliged to
endure, and the hardships which had been inflicted on them, not only by
the king, but by the people, who ‘made their lives bitter with hard

“Josephus, the Jewish historian, represents this transaction agreeably
to the true sense of the sacred text. He says, ‘the Egyptians made gifts
to the Hebrews; some in order to induce them to depart quickly, and
others on account of their neighbourhood and friendship for them.’

“As an additional confirmation of this being the true meaning of the
expression,” my uncle continued, “we may recollect that the custom of
giving, receiving, and even demanding presents is common to all parts of
the East at this day; it is especially practised on the arrival or
taking leave of strangers, and therefore may be well applied, in this
case, to the departure of the Israelites. It seems to have been the same
in all ages; for I need scarcely remind you of the ‘gold, and spices of
very great store, and precious stones,’ that the Queen of Sheba gave to
Solomon; nor of the magnificent gifts he presented to her when she was
going away, even ‘all her desire, whatsoever she _asked_, beside that
which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty.’ Nor is this exchange of
presents looked upon as any degradation to dignity, nor any mark of a
rapacious meanness.

“I have been the more desirous to explain that passage, because, from
the ambiguity of one word the Israelites have been accused of cheating
the Egyptians; and, what is of more consequence, it has been said that
they were commanded to do so. But when the word is corrected, you see
that these calumnies at once fall to the ground. And I would recommend
you all to adopt a general rule in reading the scriptures, of which I
have found the benefit. Whenever you meet with any expression that seems
to be inconsistent with the moral justice of God--pause--compare the
different parts where the same, or a similar phrase, occurs, and, before
you come to a rash conclusion, study the acceptation that the words had
at the period when the present version was made. If it requires a
knowledge of the original language, apply to some learned person; not so
much to reason for you, as to furnish the data on which to satisfy
yourselves. However bounded may be our notions of the qualities of the
Deity, and though his attributes far transcend our conception, yet it is
certain that our ideas of justice must have been derived from principles
implanted by Him; and no decree of His can ever be contrary to that
justice--for the nature of God is immutable: He is ‘the same yesterday,
to-day, and for ever.’”

_12th._--I am sure, Mamma, that you must feel very grateful to Colonel
Travers for all the interesting things which I have picked up from him,
and which I put in my journal for your amusement. To-day there was a
conversation about our fisheries, and he related two facts which I am in
hopes will be quite new to you.

You know that the great cod fishery which supplies almost all Europe
with salt-fish, is on the sand-bank that extends from the island of
Newfoundland. The water is from twenty to sixty fathoms in depth; and
when the Colonel was returning from Canada with his regiment, he
persuaded the Captain of the ship to stop for some hours on this bank,
in order to catch cod for the soldiers. He saw a great many hooked with
long lines and pulled up; and he observed, that when that was done very
rapidly the air-bladder burst, and pushed part of the stomach out of the
mouth. He explained to us that it is the air-bladder that enables fish
to raise or lower themselves in the water, by taking in or letting out
more or less air; but this they can only do gradually; and therefore
when the air has been highly condensed at the bottom of the sea, the
pressure of fifty or sixty fathoms of water, it expands the bladder more
quickly than the fish has the power of giving it vent. The air-bladder
is _cured_ or salted with the fish, and is then called the sound.

This led the conversation to the different depths which are inhabited by
different classes of fish. My uncle told us that turbots, soles, and
other flat fish, are not furnished with an air-bladder, because they
never quit the bottom of the sea; and Colonel Travers, to prove that
some fish are not intended to sink very far below the surface, mentioned
the following curious circumstance. When a whale is attacked by a
sword-fish, he immediately dives; and the sword-fish, not being
calculated by Nature to bear the enormous pressure of the sea at very
great depth, is obliged to withdraw his weapon;--if he cannot speedily
extricate it, he dies. My uncle said that this fact helped to explain
the facility with which those great monsters are killed by our Greenland
fishermen: when a whale is struck by a harpoon, he imagines it to be a
sword-fish, and, as usual, dives; this he does with such velocity, that
the harpooner is obliged to throw water on the part of the boat over
which the harpoon-line runs, to prevent its taking fire; but the power
of diving is probably limited even in a whale, and the length of line,
perhaps a mile or two, which he has taken out and is obliged to drag
through the water, at last tires him--he stops--and the men, by slowly
pulling in the line, in fact haul the boat towards him; again he sets
off--he is again tired--and is ultimately exhausted and killed by
fatigue! If he ran straight out, near the surface, no line could be long
enough, or strong enough, to check him--whenever a whale does do so, the
line snaps, and he escapes.

_13th._--The last thing that Colonel Travers told us--for I am sorry to
say he is gone away--was a pretty little story that he learned at

When the pearl-fishing in Condatchy Bay is going on, which is, he says,
a most lively, amusing scene, the Indians of the continent attend in
great numbers, and being occasionally employed, they find ample
opportunity to exercise their dexterity in sleight of hand, and every
sort of roguery. A set of these Indians contrived an ingenious method of
cheating the boat-owner who employed them to open his oysters. While one
of them made a preconcerted signal, whenever any pearls worth stealing
were found, another at the same moment pretended to conceal about him a
few small ones, and while he thus attracted the attention of the
superintendents and occasioned some bustle, the real thief was able to
secrete his prize.

This contrivance was discovered by one of the poor Ceylonese who
attended the washing of the pearls; he made it known to the master of
the boat, and then, having reason to dread the vengeance of the thieves,
he immediately fled. For some days he proceeded without shelter, till
arriving at the hut of a farmer, who lived near a cinnamon plantation
belonging to government, he supplicated him for relief and a lodging.
This man was very poor; he had a large family, and could with difficulty
shelter the fugitive for one night; besides, suspecting that the story
was not quite true, and that it was the thief instead of the informer
who told it, he was not willing to let him continue there, lest it
should bring himself under suspicion. The Ceylonese was hurt at a doubt
which he so ill deserved, and left the farmer early next morning,
wandering he knew not whither, till he found himself, just when the sun
was at its height, in a tangled and extensive forest; there he sat down
to rest under a banyan-tree, whose self-rooted branches, entwined with
creepers, had become nearly impenetrable;--and there he determined to
remain, as long as the forest supplied him with fruit and wild honey.
Fear had taken such possession of him, that he was afraid to venture
back to the more inhabited parts of the country; and yet he was here in
equal dread of the _Bedahs_, a race who live in the forests and
mountains, and who refuse to associate with the more civilized

It is supposed, Colonel Travers told us, that the Bedahs are descended
from the original inhabitants; and that, having fled from the Ceylonese
invaders, they have retained, with their ancient customs, their hatred
and fear of the invaders. They live by hunting, they sleep in the trees,
placing thorns and bushes on the ground round them to give warning of
approaching wild beasts; and on every alarm a Bedah climbs the highest
branches with the expertness of a monkey.

There are some tribes of the Bedahs in the southern part of the island
who are rather less wild, and who even carry on a little traffic with
the Ceylonese; but they are so afraid of being made prisoners, that when
they want to procure cloth, knives, iron, or any thing of that kind,
they approach the town where it is to be had, at night, and deposit in a
conspicuous place a fair quantity of goods, such as ivory, or honey,
along with a _talipot_ leaf, on which they contrive to express what they
want in exchange. On the next night they return, and generally find what
they had demanded; for if their requests are neglected they seldom fail
to revenge themselves.

Fruits of various kinds are so abundant in Ceylon, that for some time
our poor fugitive was supplied with tolerable sustenance; and he often
refreshed himself with the pure limpid water found in the Bandura, a
most curious plant, whose leaves terminate in a kind of tube which
contains nearly half a pint of water covered by a little valve. At last,
anxiety brought on a low fever, his strength failed, and he lay under
the banyan expecting to die of hunger. Early one morning he was roused
from a sort of half stupor, by hearing the low growl of a dog; and on
opening his eyes, he saw a man stooping to place something near him; he
tried to speak--but the person had vanished. He had perceived, however,
by his tall light figure and his copper complexion, that the stranger
was a Bedah; and this would have been a very terrific idea, had he not
smiled as he went away, and pointed to a little basket that he had left.
Plantains and refreshing fruits were again within his reach; and the
poor starving man ate thankfully, and felt as if he should live. Every
morning he found a fresh supply in the same place; and as his strength
began to return, the Bedah, besides the basket of fruit, added some more
nutritious food. This was dried meat preserved in honey, to keep it from
the air; and tied up in a particular substance which grows on the betel
tree, at the root of each leaf; it somewhat resembles a tough skin, and
is of so strong a texture, that it retains water. He wished to thank the
Bedah, and frequently beckoned to him to stay; but the good natured
savage shook his head, and disappeared.

When he felt himself quite recovered, and his strength restored, he
resolved to procure employment, if possible, in the cinnamon groves. The
grand harvest, which lasts from April to August, had begun, and he hoped
that in some of the various processes of cutting, scraping, or barking,
which are parcelled out among several classes of peelers, or
_choliahs_, he might find work.

On his way from the forest, in passing by the same house where he had
been permitted to lodge one night, he perceived that the farmer’s cattle
had broken through the inclosure and made their way to the cinnamon
trees, on which they were then feasting. This tree is such a favourite
with cattle that they break down every fence to get to it; and most of
the natives who live in the neighbourhood of those plantations are
deterred from having cows, because all that are found trespassing there
are forfeited.--This poor creature knew that, by giving information to
the head officer, he might receive a reward which would relieve him from
distress; but he had a more generous mind. He hastened to the farmer,
and assisted him to drive back the cows and repair the fence, before
they were discovered. The farmer was anxious to shew his gratitude, and
he felt convinced that he had wronged him by his former suspicion. By
his recommendation to the superintendent of the cinnamon groves, our
wandering Ceylonese obtained employment, and in a short time felt
himself so happy, that he had reason to reflect with satisfaction on his
honesty and generosity.

As soon as he was able to save a little money, he purchased some few
articles which he thought might be acceptable to the friendly Bedah; and
by setting out in the night he arrived early in the morning at the
forest, and deposited his offering on the very spot where, for so many
successive days, the food had been placed which saved his life. In vain
he delayed there in hopes of seeing the Bedah, till he was obliged to
return to his work; but as he heard the well known growl at no great
distance, he knew that he was observed, and that his present would be
found. Colonel T. says, that the dogs of the Bedahs are remarkable for
their sagacity in tracing game and in distinguishing the scent of
different animals. On the approach of a stranger, or of any dangerous
beast, they first put their master on his guard, and then help to defend
him; and so invaluable are they to this tribe, that when their daughters
marry, these dogs form their portion.

Our industrious Ceylonese had built a hut during his residence at the
cinnamon plantation; it was formed from a single cocoa nut tree; the
stem furnished posts; the branches supplied rafters, and the leaves
formed a covering sufficient to repel both sun and rain. The Ceylonese
huts are fastened entirely by withes of ratan, or by _coya_ rope, which
is made of the fibrous threads of the husk of the cocoa nut. They are
sometimes strengthened with slender pieces of wood or bamboo, and daubed
over with clay; and round the walls are benches to sit or to sleep on.

Colonel Travers took the opportunity of telling us, that the cinnamon
twigs are first scraped with a peculiar kind of knife, convex at one
side, and concave opposite; the bark is then slit with the point, and
the convex side of the knife is used to loosen it, till it can be taken
off entire; it appears like a tube in that state, and the pieces are
laid one within another, and spread to dry. When quite dried they are
tied up in bundles of about thirty pounds weight, and are carried by the
choliahs to the cinnamon store-houses at Columbo.

Being no longer afraid of the pearl-gatherers, he returned to Condatchy;
and as it is a usual practice to search for pearls which may by chance
have dropped from the oysters while they lie in the pits, he also went
to see how far his present good fortune would continue to befriend him.
Those pits are dug about two feet deep in the ground, and lined with
mats; and the oysters are left there to putrefy, as they are then easily
opened without injuring the pearls. His search was successful beyond his
hopes; he found a pearl of uncommon size, and joyfully carried it to the
collector, who rewarded him with a large sum of money.

It is easy, dear Mamma, to guess the rest of the story. He bought cloth,
axes, knives, and various useful things; and making his way once more
to the banyan tree, he laid these offerings of gratitude in the spot so
well known to him and the good Bedah--and again he heard the faithful
dog growl his knowledge of his being there. He then visited the farmer,
and found him in the greatest distress; for his cattle having again
trespassed on the cinnamon grounds they had been all seized. The
kind-hearted Ceylonese bestowed on him a sum more than sufficient to
replace his cows, and it was difficult to say which felt the most
happy--the farmer suddenly relieved, or the generous creature who
relieved him.

_16th._--We all petitioned my uncle to read the Tempest to us yesterday
evening. He consented, upon condition that Mary should assist; and it
was arranged that she should read the parts of Miranda and Ariel.

Mary is so timid, that she does not like even such a moderate
exhibition: she complied, however, and they both read so delightfully,
that every one perceived beauties in that play which they had never
noticed before. At the end of each act we talked it over; and my uncle
encouraged every one to give their opinions, which he says is the best
way of compelling people to think.

My aunt said that none of Shakespeare’s plays are so perfect as to the
time in which the action takes place, as the Tempest, or displays so
much imagination; for, while he seems to leave one at liberty to wander
through the wild and the wonderful, yet such is the correctness of his
taste, that in this piece he never suffers it to pass the bounds of

Caroline was most pleased with the part of the “delicate” Ariel. “It is
quite charming,” she said, “he is so well imagined: his qualities and
offices and his expressions are so suitable to each other, and so nicely
described by himself. Besides, he seems so amiable and good-natured to
the shipwrecked strangers, that even while we consider him as the artful
agent of the magician, he seems to have the qualities of almost a
celestial being.”

I asked her which she liked best, Ariel, or the fairy sprites in
Midsummer Night’s Dream. “Like you, Bertha, I delight in all
Shakspeare’s fairy-land,” said she; “but I think Ariel in every way
superior to Puck: even his tricks are more elegant and graceful, and he
seems to sympathise with the people he is teasing; but Puck, however
amusing, is a wild mad-cap, that revels in his antics, and ridicules the
poor victims of his merry mischief. I like to think of Ariel as he ‘lies
in the cowslip’s bell’--or ‘rides on the curled clouds, to do his
master’s bidding,’ with such swiftness as to ‘drink the air before

My uncle praised the drawing of Caliban’s character. “Every time
I read it,” said he, “I see fresh proofs of its complete
originality.--Shakspeare could have had no model for such a creature--it
could only be the work of his own extraordinary imagination, and it
shews what powers of invention he possessed. Caliban is just what the
offspring of a witch and a demon should be: he is a prodigy of cruelty
and malice; and Shakspeare heightens the effect by giving him a language
so poetical and yet so gross, that all he says, whether in brutal
malice, or in uncouth kindness, is in perfect keeping with his general
character. It expresses the instinctive barbarity of the monster; and
the mind is throughout divided between the detestation excited by such a
horrible being, and astonishment at the versatile genius by which it was

“Miranda is my favourite,” said my aunt; “I am sure there is as little
common-place in it as in either of the singular characters you have been
praising; in hers, innocence and gentleness are the predominant
features; while the union of the softest tenderness for Ferdinand with
her candour and dutiful deference to her mysterious father, give it the
most amiable finish; and I think the skill of Shakspeare in painting it
is at least equal to that shewn in any other of the play; for the many
beautiful little touches by which it is brought out, appear to me to
shew more talent than when violence of passion and great strength of
expression are used.”

    “On the bat’s back I do fly
     After summer merrily.”

I repeated these lines in Ariel’s song, and asked the meaning of “after
summer.” “Some critics,” said my uncle, “have thought it should be
_after sunset_, because Ariel speaks of riding on the _bat_; but
commentators delight in deep and hidden meanings, and it has therefore
been suggested, that as the fairy tribe dislike winter, Ariel, who is
now to be restored to liberty, rejoices that he may follow summer round
the globe; and therefore he is said to _fly after summer_.”

_17th._--We have been reading the life of that delightful musician,
Mozart; and he is claimed by each party. But I think he can give very
little support to Mary; for though his father was a teacher of music,
and early began to instruct him, his rapid progress and juvenile success
seem to have gone far beyond the effect of circumstances, which in a
hundred cases have been the same with other musical teachers, and other
children. Mozart was but four years old when his great delight was
seeking for _thirds_ on the piano-forte. When five, he learned difficult
pieces of music from his father so quickly, that he could immediately
repeat them; and in the following year he invented little sonatas,
which he played for his father, who always wrote them down to encourage
him.--Music was introduced into all his sports, none of which were
acceptable to him without it; and if sometimes a fondness for the usual
occupations of childhood did influence his mind, yet music soon became
again the favourite object.

Before he was six years of age, his father, observing him writing
busily, asked what he was doing: the little boy said, he was composing a
concerto for the harpsichord. The father took the paper, and laughed
heartily at the blots and scribbles; but when he examined it with more
attention, he shewed it to a friend with tears of delight, saying,
“Look, my friend, every thing is composed according to the rules; it is
a pity that the piece cannot be made use of, but it is too difficult,
nobody would be able to play it.”

The progress of this wonderful child was equal to this beginning, and in
various public exhibitions in Germany, and particularly at Vienna, he
excited, at a very early age, the astonishment of all musical people by
his science, by the correctness of his ear, and by his powerful
execution.--At the age of thirteen, he composed his first opera; and you
well know, Mamma, the numerous beautiful compositions which
distinguished his short life; for he died at the age of thirty-six.
Surely this was a genius!

_18th, Sunday._--My uncle read to us this morning the chapters which
relate the humbling of Pharaoh, and the going forth of the Israelites;
he afterwards said, “In the wonderful judgments inflicted on the
Egyptians, and in the miraculous institution of the Passover, when the
destroying angel passed over the house of every Israelite, we see, my
dear children, the operation of that Being whose will controuls the
elements of nature, and directs the passions of mankind.

“No human force is exercised--no Israelite lifts the sword; yet the
Egyptian monarch is humbled, his people are terrified, and both urge the
departure of the Israelites; who even demand and obtain from their late
oppressors silver and gold, as payment for their past labours. ‘Rise up
and get you forth,’ said Pharaoh, and they immediately commenced their
march before his hardened mind again repented of yielding to the decrees
of the Almighty.”

Wentworth asked his father how the Israelites could carry their kneading
troughs on their shoulders.

“It appears,” said my uncle, “from the accounts of various travellers,
that to this day the Arabs, who dwell in the countries through which the
Israelites passed, are in the habit of eating unleavened cakes; and that
the vessels still used there for kneading them, are small wooden bowls;
these you see could be very conveniently bound up in the kneading
cloths, and tied on their shoulders. The Arabs have also, among their
travelling furniture, a round thick piece of leather, which they lay on
the ground, and which serves them to eat upon; round it there is a row
of rings, by which it is drawn together with a chain: and it hangs by a
hook at the end of the chain to the side of the camel, in travelling. In
this leather, they carry their meal made into dough; and when the repast
is over, they wrap up in it all the fragments that remain.”

“I wonder,” said Frederick, who was looking at the map, “I wonder,
heavily laden as they must have been, that they did not take the
shortest road to the promised land, instead of going round about by the
Red Sea.”

“The regular route to the promised land,” my uncle replied, “was
certainly along the coast of the Mediterranean, towards Gaza and the
other cities of Palestine, which were a portion of Canaan, and at no
great distance from the Lower Egypt. But the way by which it was the
divine will to lead them, was through the Red Sea; as being not only
impracticable for their return, but being eminently calculated to
impress them with a sense of the miraculous power which guided and
protected them through the ‘deep.’”

I asked my uncle then what was meant by the word wilderness. He said,
“The word occurs in a great many places, both in the Old and New
Testament, where it sometimes means a wild, uninhabited desert, and
sometimes only an uncultivated plain: the wilderness through which the
Israelites were conducted, partook of both these descriptions, being
partly rocky, and partly a sandy, unproductive district. It occupied the
space between the two branches of the Arabian Gulf, which was sometimes
called in Hebrew, and is indeed at this day in the Coptic language, the
‘Sea of Weeds.’”

“Why, then, do we give it the name of the Red Sea?”

“We have borrowed the term from the Greeks,” said my uncle: “from whence
they derived it is not so easily answered; certainly not from the colour
of the water, or of the sand at the bottom. The most probable notion is,
that it was originally called the sea of _Edom_, as it washed the coast
of that country; and that, as Edom signifies _red_ in Hebrew, the
Greeks, not understanding the geographical allusion, simply translated
it, just as the Romans and ourselves have done after them.”

A general conversation then ensued, about the passage of the Israelites
through the sea; and I shall write here some of what I picked up, by way
of exercise only, for I am sure, Mamma, that you are already well
acquainted with all that is known on the subject.

The exact spot at which they quitted the Egyptian shore has been much
contested among commentators; but the greatest number of opinions seem
to be in favour of Clysma; a point several hours journey from the town
of Suez, which stands at the head of the western gulf. The names that
some of the places in the vicinity still retain, appear to confirm this
supposition; for instance, the ridge of hills extending from the Nile to
this part of the coast is called Ataka, which means _deliverance_; and
the narrow plain to the southward of that ridge preserves the name of
Wadi-et-tiheh, or the _Valley of the Wandering_. On the opposite shore
of the Red Sea there is a headland called Ras Mousa, or the _Cape of
Moses_; farther to the southward, Hammam Faraun, _Pharaoh’s Baths_; and
the general name of this part of the gulf is Bahr el Kolsum, or the _Bay
of Submission_. From these circumstances it may be concluded that the
Israelites crossed the western arm of the Red Sea, about twelve or
thirteen miles from Suez; and it appears from my uncle’s maps that the
sea there is eight or nine miles broad.

My uncle says it is the opinion of some geographers that formerly the
Red Sea did not stop at Suez; and modern travellers have described a
large plain which is considerably lower than the surface of the sea, and
which extends seven or eight leagues to the northward of that town. This
plain is two leagues in breadth; and from the thick layer of salt, and
the quantity of shells which are every where found under the soil, they
say there can be no doubt that it was once the bed of the sea. I asked
what could have driven the sea out, if ever it had been there? But he
said there was no difficulty in that; for rivers and narrow seas are
continually changing their boundaries by the sand which their tides and
currents throw up; and as soon as ever the Red Sea had washed up a new
barrier at Suez, evaporation in that climate would rapidly dry the part
that had been cut off.

It has been asked, were there not ledges of rock lying across the Red
Sea, on which, when the tide was out, the Israelites might have forded
it. “But,” says my uncle, “if we do not believe the transaction to have
been miraculous, we may as well not believe it all; for the event, as
well as the miracle, rest on precisely the same authority. At the same
time, do not suppose that I wish to discourage these inquiries; they are
of considerable use;--they lead to the investigation of facts, and the
more strictly the Bible is examined, the more we shall be satisfied of
its truth. The attention of the celebrated travellers Niebuhr and Bruce
was particularly directed to that question; and they distinctly assert
that there are no rocks there whatever.”

My uncle concluded the conversation by saying, “Many of the Fathers have
supposed it to have been the opinion of St. Paul, that the passage
through the waters of the Red Sea was intended as a type of the
Christian baptism, and of our conditional resurrection to eternal
happiness. And it was this idea that probably induced the framers of our
liturgy to introduce the history of that event into the service
appointed for the day of our Lord’s resurrection.”

_19th._--We amused ourselves for some time after dinner this evening
with our favourite question-play, animal, vegetable, and mineral;
Marianne is well acquainted with it.

I thought of sponge as a good puzzling thing: however, it puzzled me not
a little, in the progress of their questions, to describe it
satisfactorily. In the first place, I had heard some one tell you that
sponge was a vegetable production--but I have since read that it is a
substance formed by some species of marine worm; so when I was forced to
give distinct answers to the questions, was it animal, or was it
vegetable, I was divided between those two ideas. Then came questions as
to what part of the world it was found in; and I set them all wrong by
saying, only in the Mediterranean. In short, I found that even in
children’s plays people may have to blush for their ignorance.

After I had puzzled in and out of the question, and that our play was
ended, my uncle told me that sponges, of which there are now known more
than a hundred different species, are found in a multitude of places, on
the shores of both the old and new Continents. “Those most valued in the
arts,” said he, “are inhabitants of the Mediterranean, and part of the
Indian Ocean; two small kinds of sponge thrive even on the frozen shores
of Greenland; and forty species have been discovered on the coasts of
Great Britain. They are found equally in places that are always covered
by the sea, and in those which it leaves dry with the ebb tide. They
adhere to rocks, and spread all over their surface; in some places they
keep possession of the most exposed cliffs, but they thrive best in
sheltered cavities, and are found lining the walls of submarine caves,
attaching themselves indifferently to mineral or vegetable, or even to
animal substances.

“The size to which sponge attains is very uncertain; I lately saw an
account of one found at Singapore in the East Indies, which was shaped
like a goblet, and measured round the brim fifty-one inches; the stem
was seventeen inches, and it contained thirty-six quarts of water!
Naturalists have agreed to seven general divisions of form; so as to
make something like an arrangement of this most singular class of
organized beings.”

I interrupted my uncle here, to ask whether, in calling them organized
beings, he meant the substance of the sponge, or the insects that are
supposed to form it.

“It is curious,” replied he, “that two thousand years ago, the Greeks
were occupied with this very inquiry; some endeavouring to prove the
vitality of sponge, and others, to shew that it was merely the work of
certain worms: and even so late as the year 1752, Peysonnel, the
naturalist, communicated to the Royal Society a paper in support of this
last opinion.

“Most naturalists, however, now agree in regarding sponge as a
_zoophyte_, or a kind of animal approaching nearly to the form and
nature of a plant; and Linnæus himself, latterly, classed it amongst
animals. As the large orifices appeared to be the only means of entrance
to the internal canals, it was supposed that the nourishment of this
animal was drawn in through them; but later discoveries have shewn that,
besides those apertures, there are minute pores over the whole surface;
that through these pores the water is imbibed, by which the creature is
nourished; and that the large round holes convey a constant stream of
water away _from_ the interior of the body. This stream carries off the
particles of matter which are constantly separating from the interior,
and which are not only perceptible by the assistance of the microscope,
but may be occasionally seen by the naked eye, like small flakes. When
a living sponge is allowed to remain a day at rest, in a white vessel
filled with pure sea water, an accumulation of feculent matter is always
found immediately under each orifice. If it is confined in the same
basin of water for two days, the currents appear to cease; but, on
plunging it again into water newly taken from the sea, they are renewed
in a few minutes; and the continual circulation of water through the
body, Dr. Grant, who appears to have studied this subject with great
perseverance, says, he no longer doubts, forms one of the living
functions of this animal.

“It would only burthen your memory,” continued my uncle, “were I to tell
you all the various opinions which have been formed respecting the
anatomy of the sponge. I will merely say, that Dr. Grant affirms, though
in opposition to M. Cuvier, that the fibrous part of the sponge, which
is insoluble in water, and forms a net work through every part of the
body, is the skeleton of this zoophyte, serving, as in other animals, to
give form to the body, and support to the softer organs.

“Sponge attaches itself sometimes to marine plants, so as to choak up
their pores. Small bits of the same species will spread towards each
other, and become one piece; and it is amusing to observe, says Dr.
Grant, the growth of the young _Spongiæ parasiticæ_ on the back and
legs of a species of crab, where they frequently collect to the number
of forty or fifty, interrupting the motion of its joints, and spreading
like a mantle over its back, or perhaps rising in fantastic ornaments
upon its head, which the crab is unable to remove.”

_21st._--When I parted from Mrs. P. at Falmouth, my uncle, who was much
pleased with her kindness to me, made her promise to pay a visit here in
some little time. That time has, at last, come. We have her now actually
in the house, and I have once more the pleasure of being with a friend
who was so kind and tender to me when I left you, my beloved Mamma.--How
many little circumstances are recalled to my mind by seeing her! She has
just the same quiet composed look that she used to have; and, though
always ready to converse and to impart the information she possesses,
yet her countenance seldom loses a certain expression of sadness.

She arrived last night, and has promised to stay till after Christmas. I
believe a few other friends are to be here also; but I am no longer such
a fool about strangers.

Many a time, things which you have said to me, and which then I scarcely
heeded, return to my mind. How often, for instance, you have told me
that we lose much real enjoyment by that sort of fear or reserve which
I used to feel at the sight of a new face; and now that I have learned
to listen attentively to conversation, I see what amusement, as well as
knowledge, one may gain from the mixture of characters to be met with in
society. Indeed, every day shews me how much real goodness there is,
though of various kinds, among people who at first sight seem only
intent on their own affairs.

I am sure that I at least have received a great deal of kindness in my
short life--and particularly since I have ceased to be what you used to
call _farouche_.

_23rd._--This day has been remarkably cold and wet, and stormy; nothing
could appear more dreary; and when I looked out, I persuaded myself that
I felt quite melancholy. We had, notwithstanding, been all as cheerful
as usual, and had contrived plenty of amusements for ourselves, in
addition to shuttlecock, which warms one so comfortably; but this very
dark and gloomy day we could scarcely distinguish our little feathery
plaything after three o’clock.

In the evening Mrs. P. taught us a new way of capping verses, which is a
little more difficult, but I think much more amusing than the common
method. Instead of each person being confined to a single line, as much
of a poem is to be repeated as will complete the sense; and the
succeeding quotations are all to allude, either to one general subject,
or at least to something touched upon by the previous speaker.

I will give you a sample in which we all joined:--

  UNCLE. “Heap on more coals: the wind is chill;
            But let it whistle as it will,
            We’ll keep our merry Christmas still.”

  AUNT. Still linger in our northern clime
            Some remnants of the good old time;
            And still, within our vallies here,
            We hold the kindred title dear.

  FREDERICK. Decrepit now, December moves along
            The plashy plains.

  CAROLINE. Phœbus arise,
            And paint the sable skies
            With azure, white, and red;
            Rouse Memnon’s mother from her Tithon’s bed,
            That she with roses thy career may spread.

  BERTHA. Sad wears the hour! heavy and drear
            Creeps, with slow pace, the waning year;
            And sullen, sullen heaves the blast
            Its deep sighs o’er the lonely waste!

  WENTWORTH. Who loves not more the night of June
            Than dull December’s gloomy noon;
            The moonlight, than the fog of frost?
            And can we say which cheats the most?

  MRS. P. Mustering his storms, a sordid host,
            Lo! Winter desolates the year.

  MARY. Yet gentle hours advance their wing,
            And Fancy, mocking winter’s night,
            With flowers, and dews, and streaming light
            Already decks the new-born spring.

_December 24th._--

    ’Twas Christmas broached the mightiest ale,
      ’Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
    A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
      The poor man’s heart through half the year.

How happy every one looks in these good Christmas times! Besides those
feelings of gratitude and hope, which now come home to every Christian’s
breast, it is delightful to see the satisfaction the rich feel in this
country in sharing their comforts with the poor.

I need scarcely tell you, who know my uncle and aunt so well, how much
they enjoy the pleasure of giving food and clothing and blankets to
those who are in want; while to the cottagers who do not require such
assistance, they make some useful present, such as a book, or some
little article, which is sure to be highly valued, as it marks the
approbation of their landlord. Of course the Franklins and our old
basket-maker have not been forgotten. My aunt says she likes to make the
poor more than commonly comfortable now, that they may remember the
season with pleasure.

Farmer Moreland, and two or three other rich farmers in the
neighbourhood, are very considerate of the comforts of their labouring
men at this season; and they have joined with my uncle and aunt in
trying, by giving them constant employment, to enable them to struggle
on by their own exertions without applying to the parish for support.
Many have large families, some of which are taught, even while very
young, to help their parents; and it is to these people that my aunt
distributes the largest portions of her Christmas bounty.

In speaking of Christmas, my uncle told me that in the heathen times of
these countries, and of the northern parts of Europe, a festival took
place exactly at this season, which was dedicated to the sun, the chief
deity of our heathen ancestor; and when they were converted to
Christianity, it was thought prudent that they should continue to have
their festival, although the object of it was of course changed. It was
called _Jol_ or _Yule_--a Gothic word, signifying a feast, and
particularly applied to a religious one. Christmas is even still called
Yule in many places in the north of England; and it is said that the
custom of making a large fire on Christmas eve, on which great logs of
wood are piled, is still kept up. These are called _Yule clogs_, and,
before they are quite consumed, a fragment of them is taken out, and
preserved safely for the next year.

This is probably one of the remnants, my uncle says, of the feasts of
fire instituted by the worshippers of Bali, from whom there appears
reason to think the Druids were directly descended; as a coincidence of
customs, words, names, and ancient worship is in many instances

Just as we had done tea this evening, while my uncle was talking on this
subject, he was interrupted by a loud ringing at the hall-door, and it
was scarcely opened, when there was such a noise in the hall, such
singing, talking, laughing and dancing, that I was alarmed at first; but
my aunt told me it was only the _Mummers_. We went to look at them, and
I understood that they were acting St. George and the Dragon; but it was
such a strange, confused medley, that I could only distinguish a word or
two. They had all hideous masks, and were dressed up in the most
grotesque way; and everybody was highly diverted except poor little
Grace: she was so frightened by the bustle and strange figures, that my
uncle was obliged to reason with her. A word or a look from him has
unspeakable power over the minds of all the family, and indeed of all
who know him.

The mummers’ song I could not understand, except one stanza, which they
repeated always more distinctly than the rest, as a hint, I suppose, to
my uncle:--

    In Christmas time is found
        The best of stout old beer,
    And if it now abound
        We shall have dainty cheer;
    Then merrily dance we round,
        And so conclude the year.

My uncle good-humouredly gave them a few shillings to get their “stout
old beer,” and they hurried off to visit some other house.

_25th._--We all met in health and cheerfulness this good Christmas
morning, and in our heartfelt wishes for mutual happiness, yours, dear
Mamma, was included as ardently, as if you had been present.

To the usual old fashioned expressions of kindness, my aunt added, in
her impressive manner, a tender wish that we might receive such gracious
aid from above, as would enable us to rejoice indeed on this great day.

After some general conversation, my uncle explained to us the 45th
Psalm, which is appointed for the service of Christmas-day; and which,
he says, like many of the other psalms, is constantly read and but
little understood.

“It appears,” said he, “to be a song of congratulation upon the marriage
of a great king; but, from a consideration of all the subjects on which
it touches, there is no doubt that it prophetically alludes to the
mystical wedding of Christ with his church. This was the unanimous
opinion of all the Jewish expositors--for though prejudice prevented
them from discovering the completion of the prophecies in our Saviour,
yet they well understood their meaning, and all allowed that this psalm
related to Him, and not to any earthly prince.

“This figure, of the union of a husband and wife, has been consecrated
by our Lord himself, to signify his own union with his church, in the
parable of the king making a marriage for his son. Some commentators
have imagined that the marriage of Solomon with Pharaoh’s daughter was
the subject of the 45th Psalm; but it is in many respects wholly
inapplicable to that king. The hero of the poem is a warrior, who reigns
at length by conquest over his vanquished enemies: Solomon, on the
contrary, enjoyed a long reign of uninterrupted peace. He is also
distinguished by his love of righteousness; whereas Solomon, during the
latter part of his reign, fell far short of the excellence here
described. But, above all, the king is addressed by the title of God in
a manner which is never applied to any earthly king.

“The Psalmist begins with our Lord’s first appearance in the human form,
and passing rapidly through the different periods of Christianity, makes
them the groundwork of this mystic and inspired song, which may be
divided into three parts.

“The first three verses describe our Lord on earth in the days of his
humiliation. The second section consists of the five following verses,
which relate to the propagation of the gospel by our Lord’s victory
over his enemies; and this includes the whole period, from his ascension
to the time, not yet arrived, of the fulfilling of the _Gentiles_. The
sequel alludes to the re-marriage--that is, to the restoration of the
converted _Jews_ to the bosom of the true church.

“‘Thou art fairer than the children of men.’ Though we have no account
in the gospels of our Saviour’s person, yet it is evident, from many
circumstances, that there must have been a peculiar dignity in his
appearance. But it was the sanctity of his manners; his perfect
obedience to the will of God; the vast scope of his mind, which
comprehended all knowledge; his power to resist all temptation, and to
despise shame and to endure pain and death, to which that expression
alludes--this was the beauty with which he was adorned beyond the sons
of men.

“‘Full of grace are thy lips.’ This is put figuratively, for that
perfect doctrine which he delivered, and which, if sincerely adopted,
was to sustain the contrite, to console the afflicted, and to reclaim
the guilty.

“‘The king’s enemies’ are the wicked passions of mankind, against whom
he wages a spiritual war; and, the ‘sword and arrows,’ St. Paul tells
us, mean ‘the sword of God.’

“The seventh and eighth verses shew the King seated on the throne of his
mediatorial kingdom, where he is addressed as God, whose throne is
everlasting, and as a Monarch whose heart is set upon justice and

“In the first dispensation of the law through Moses, the perfumed
garments of the priest were typical of the graces and virtues of the
Redeemer, and of the excellence of his word; so the Psalmist describes
the King, of whom the high priest was the representative, as scented
with myrrh, aloes, and cassia.

“In the figurative language of scripture, ‘king’s daughters’ express
peoples and nations, and here mean, that the empires converted to the
faith of Christ will shine in the beauty of holiness, and will be united
to the Messiah’s kingdom.

“The ‘Queen’ evidently represents the Hebrew Church, re-united by
conversion in the fulness of time. The restoration of Israel to the
situation of consort in the Messiah’s kingdom is the constant strain of
prophecy; whole chapters might be quoted; but I think it will be an
interesting employment to some of you to search for them yourselves. I
will only remind you of that passage in the epistle to the Romans, where
St. Paul says, that blindness is _in part_ only happened to Israel, till
the time shall arrive for the fulness of the Gentiles to come in; and
then all Israel shall be saved.

“The Queen’s ‘vesture of gold’ denotes those real treasures, of which
the church is the depository, the written word, and the dispensation of
its gracious promises to mankind.

“‘Forget thine own people, and thy father’s house.’ This applies to the
ancient Jewish religion, and its typical ceremonies and sacrifices, now
no longer necessary. The remainder of the psalm alludes to the churches
established under ‘the King’; to the simplicity and excellence of the
Christian dispensation; and closes with an assurance that the children
of the Queen Consort, that is, the church, after collecting the lost
sheep of Israel, shall be, as their fathers were, God’s peculiar

My uncle concluded by saying, that this beautiful psalm, which is
written in such majestic language, and presents such cheering hopes to
Christians, Jews, and Gentiles, has been a constant subject of
discussion amongst our learned divines; and advised us to read with
attention the excellent commentaries on it by Bishop Horne and Bishop

_26th._--This day is so calm and bright that it is not like winter; it
almost brings to my mind some of our own days at home. Oh! mamma, if you
were but here, all would be delightful.

We are all going to walk to Farmer Moreland’s, except Wentworth and
Frederick, who are mounting their ponies to visit a friend just returned
from Eton.

I am called--Yes, quite ready. Good day, dear mamma.

Well, mamma, evening has come, and I have but little to tell you about
our Christmas visit to Farmer Moreland and his dame, which was happily
accomplished; but a great deal to tell you about Wentworth and
Frederick, and their adventures. When they had ridden about a mile, they
were stopped by a little boy, who came running from a lane in the wood,
crying piteously, “Mother, mother, oh! come to mother!” To all their
questions he gave no other answer but “Come to mother; oh! do come, she
is a dying.” The child was a very little creature, and seemed scarcely
to know any other words.

My cousins, without hesitation, or any thought about their ride,
determined to follow the child, who, though he could not say much, knew
very well what to do. He led them along one of the green lanes a
considerable distance into the wood, and there they found his poor
mother lying, without any other shelter than that of a large spreading
holly--without blanket or covering--her head resting on a little bundle,
and looking deadly pale. The child ran towards her, and gently patting
her face, cried, “Here, mother; look, look.”

As Wentworth approached, she opened her eyes, and seeing a benevolent
countenance, smiled faintly. She tried to raise herself, but could not.
In reply to his inquiries she made him understand that, having travelled
two days with little rest or food, suffering much from grief, along with
fatigue, she had grown so ill that she was obliged to stop there. Not
seeing any cottage near, in which she could beg a lodging, and feeling
totally unable to walk farther, she had lain there many hours, but had
not seen any one pass, and fearing that the child would be starved, she
had sent him in search of some kind-hearted person. She added that she
was sure her illness was a fever; and as there was, therefore, little
chance of her being admitted into any house, all she wished for was a
shed to cover her, some water to drink, and some bread for her little

My cousins, promising assistance, rode home instantly, in hopes of
finding my uncle, but we were all at Farmer Moreland’s. They tried then
to find some one who could erect a shed over the poor woman, but it was
a holyday no labourers were at work; and the steward, who was the only
person they found, had received orders not to leave the yards all day,
because many idle people might be about. He told Wentworth he could
easily supply materials for a shed, if there was any one to build it.
Wentworth and Frederick looked at each other for a moment, and then both
said together--“Let us do it ourselves, and give up the ride.” Each had
been afraid of disappointing his brother by the proposal, but they
agreed to it with equal good-will, and set about their new occupation so
earnestly, that in a quarter of an hour the garden ass-cart was loaded
with straw and stakes, and the necessary tools. Before they went away,
they applied to my aunt’s housekeeper for bread and medicine; and she
very good naturedly went herself to see what state the woman was in, and
what could be done for her. She afterwards told my aunt that it was “a
beautiful sight to see the kindness of the young gentlemen, just as
careful, ma’am, not to disturb the sick beggar woman as if she was a
lady, and they so happy, ma’am, and never seeming to cast a thought
about their ride.” While they were at work, the housekeeper learned the
history of the unfortunate creature; she thinks her dangerously ill, and
has therefore procured a careful old woman to take care of her.

My cousins not being very expert in driving stakes into the ground, or
in fastening on thatch, it was nearly dark when they reached home. We
had long returned from our walk, and had been listening to the history
the housekeeper gave. My aunt and uncle were very much pleased at
hearing of the benevolence and the decision with which Wentworth and
Frederick had acted; and they determined not to interfere with them till
their task was completed.

The story of the poor woman can be told in a few words. When very young,
only sixteen, she was tempted to leave her father’s cottage, and to go
off secretly with an idle wandering man, belonging to a party of
gipsies, to whom she was afterwards married. Her husband had lately
grown very unkind, and last week he forsook her entirely. She heard that
he had come to the forest of Deane, and without waiting to make further
inquiry, she took her little son, and set off in search of her wicked
husband. Her parents are dead, and she has no friends but the gipsies,
among whom she has lived for several years; she says they are bad people
indeed, and to leave her boy with them would be his ruin. Her only
anxiety is about him; were she sure of his being in safe hands, she says
she has no longer any wish to live.

The housekeeper inquired the name of the child; but his mother
acknowledged that he had never been christened, as the people she was
with did not attend to those kind of things. He has generally been
called _Quick-finger_ amongst them, because he was so clever at little
thefts; but she had intended, she says, to have had him baptized, and to
call him Charley, after her own father. She then fell into an agony of
grief at the remembrance of her father and the time when she was happy
and innocent, as well as at the wickedness her poor little boy has
already been taught.

_Dec. 28th._--During our passage from Brazil, Captain M. lent me one of
your old favourites, Anson’s Voyage; and, next to Robinson Crusoe, it
interested me more than any thing of that kind I ever read. You may
guess then with what pleasure I have been looking over the account of a
late visit to Juan Fernandez by Mr. Scouler, who was employed by the
Hudson’s Bay Company to examine the natural history of the north-west
coast of America. I think two or three little extracts will amuse you;
and I must tell you, by the way, that Mr. Scouler seems to feel great
admiration for _our_ city of Rio, and the bay, and the view from the
Corcovado, and all our beautiful plants, birds, and insects.

“_Dec. 14, 1824._--The island of Juan Fernandez was approached with
equal interest by every one in the vessel, but with different feelings;
as classic ground by the seamen, and as a new field for research by the

“We landed at a small bay at the northern extremity of the island. The
level land near the coast had more resemblance to a European corn-field,
than to a desolate valley in the Pacific Ocean, being entirely overgrown
with oats, interspersed in different places with wild carrots. On
penetrating through the corn-fields, we discovered a small cavern,
excavated in the decomposing rock, and bearing evident traces of having
been recently inhabited. A kind of substitute for a lamp hung from the
roof, and the quantity of bones scattered about, shewed there was no
scarcity of provisions. Near this, a natural arch, about seven feet
high, opened into a small bay, bounded on all sides by steep
perpendicular rocks, which afforded an inaccessible retreat to
multitudes of sea birds.

“The next day, on approaching the landing place in Cumberland Bay, we
were surprised by the appearance of smoke rising among the trees; and we
had the pleasure of finding an Englishman there. When he first saw our
boat, he was afraid it belonged to a Spanish privateer, and had
concealed himself in the woods, as they had formerly destroyed his
little establishment. He belonged to a party of English and Chilians,
employed in sending the skins of cattle, which are now plentiful, to
Chili. We were delighted with the beautiful situation where they had
fixed their dwelling; close to a fine stream, and surrounded by a
shrubbery of _Fuchsia_, mixed with peach and apple-trees, pears, figs,
vines, and strawberries, rue, mint, radish, and Indian cress, besides
oats, were all growing in the greatest profusion; and the sea abounded
with fish.

“Our new friend had a little collection of English books; and one piece
of furniture, which seemed particularly valuable,--an old iron pot,
though without a bottom; but he had fitted a wooden one to it, and when
he had occasion to boil any thing, he plunged the pot into the earth,
and kindled a fire round its sides.

“We made an excursion to the interior, and found many beautiful plants
and shrubs. The dry soil was covered by an evergreen _arbutus_, and a
shrubby _campanula_, and every sheltered rock afforded a different
species of fern, the greatest vegetable ornament of the island. We
refreshed ourselves with strawberries, which were small and pale, but of
a very agreeable flavour; and the vine plants were loaded with grapes;
they were still unripe.”

I am quite disappointed at Mr. Scouler’s not mentioning the myrtle trees
described in Anson’s Voyage, that tall wood of myrtles that screened the
lawn where the commodore had pitched his tent; and which, sweeping round
it, in the form of a theatre, extended up to the rising ground. I should
like to have known what species of myrtle produced timber of forty feet
in length. But above all, I felt disappointed at his account of the
cavern; I was thinking of Alexander Selkirk, and could not help hoping
that it was to prove the very one in which he had lived; or perhaps that
some other romantic Selkirk was then its solitary master, instead of
those Chilian cattle-killers.

_29th._--There was a long conversation to-day on corals, corallines, and
particularly on the formation of islands of that substance, which seems
to take place so rapidly in some parts of the world.

Mr. Salt, the traveller, says that the islands in the Bay of Amphila are
composed entirely of marine remains, strongly cemented together, and now
forming solid masses; the surface of which is covered by only a thin
layer of soil. These marine remains are chiefly corallines, madrepores,
and a great variety of sea-shells, of species still existing in the Red
Sea. Some of the islands are thirty feet above high-water mark; a
circumstance which, he says, makes it difficult to account for the
process of their formation. When a pillar of coral rises to the surface
of the sea, birds, of course, resort to it; the decay of fish-bones, and
other remains of their food in time produces a soil, which is followed
by vegetation, and then it quickly assumes the appearance of a little
island, covered with a solid stratum of earth. But in the present case,
large pieces of madrepore are found, disposed in regular layers, far
above the sea; and for this no satisfactory reason can be assigned, he
says, except that the sea must have retired since they were so
deposited; for this tribe of animals cannot work in the air.

There is nothing more curious, my uncle observed, than the changes
produced on the face of the globe by the operations of the coral worm,
a little creature so small as to be scarcely visible. New islands, he
says, produced by its means, are continually rising out of the sea, and
old ones are becoming united to others, or to the continent. In reading
about something else, I met with a singular instance of this, in the
account of Saugor Island, and Edmonstone’s Isle, in the Bay of Bengal,
Edmonstone’s Isle appeared so lately as 1818; it is already two miles
long, and half a mile broad, and the channel between the two islands is
so shallow, that, in a few years, they will probably be joined together.
Vegetation had commenced immediately on the most central and elevated
part; saltwort, with one or two other plants, had given it a verdant
tint, and by daily binding the shifting sand, were contributing to form
the basis of a more durable soil.

Coral was formerly thought to be a vegetable, and even the celebrated
Tournefort considered it to be a marine moss; but it is now known to be
the production of a race of animals, of which it seems as much a part as
the shell is of the snail. Most of the islands in the South Sea are
coral rocks covered with earth. My uncle says that late voyagers have
asserted that the bays and harbours of many of these islands have been
observed to be gradually closing up, by the progress of these
extraordinary creatures; and that it may therefore be supposed that
these separate islands will in time be connected, and actually become a

He told us, that M. de Peysonnel, of Marseilles, was the first who
proved by experiment the animal nature of the coral; and shewed, that
those bodies which former naturalists had mistaken for flowers, were, in
fact, the insects that inhabited the coral. When the branches were taken
out of the water, these supposed flowers, which proceeded from a number
of white points in the bark, withdrew and disappeared; and when the
branch was restored to the water, they were again perceptible. The white
specks he proved to be holes in the outer surface, or bark, and
corresponding with a series of cavities within; and secondly, he shewed
that from these holes a milky fluid issued, which was an animal juice,
and must, therefore, have proceeded from an insect. By immersing coral
in strong vinegar, he could dissolve the calcareous bark to a certain
depth, so as to shew the tubular structure of the interior uninjured.

Carbonate of lime, my uncle says, is the principal part of the substance
of the whole tribe of corals and corallines; but where these minute
insects, or rather _polypi_, obtain that material, or how they can
decompose such an extraordinary quantity of it from sea-water, is one of
those secrets of nature which philosophers have not yet discovered,
although it is constantly in operation, and on an immense scale.

_31st._--Frederick read to us, this evening, some of De Capell Brooke’s
travels; and I ran away with the book afterwards, to copy for you this
account of the cataract of Trallhätta, in Norway, which must be a
singular scene.

“The whole water of the Gotha tumbles with fearful roarings down the
rocky declivities, and in its descent forms four principal falls, the
perpendicular height of which, taken together, is 110 feet. Yet the
navigation is not obstructed; for locks with sluices, like those on
navigable canals, have been cut in the solid rock, with incredible pains
and labour; through them, vessels can be lowered to the level of the
river below the falls, preserving their course with ease; and affording
a strong instance of the power and ingenuity of man.”

In conversing about Norway, my uncle said, he thought the ingenuity
displayed by the Norwegian peasantry was surprising. Living remote from
towns, and scattered among their mountains, they become independent of
assistance. The same man is frequently his own tailor, shoemaker, and
carpenter, and sometimes even his own clock and watch maker. Most of
them are very expert at carving, and the beautiful whiteness of their
fir wood furnishes them with very pretty ornaments for their cottages.
They work neatly in silver, brass, and other metals; and there are few
things for the purchase of which they are obliged to have recourse to
the distant towns.

Their methods of brewing and baking are very simple. The first consists
in a simple infusion of barley, which, with the young shoots of juniper,
produces a weak but pleasant beverage.--In making their _flad bröd_, or
flat bread, they mix rye-flour with water, and when the dough is well
kneaded, roll it out like a pancake, but not thicker than a wafer. As
fast as they are made they are placed on a gridiron, and one minute
bakes them. Prepared in this way, the rye loses its coarse taste, and
the bread is agreeable.

You will not, probably, be inclined to imitate them, but I am sure you
will admire the ingenuity of these people in the manner they employ the
black ants to make vinegar. These creatures have gigantic habitations,
which, in size and appearance, are not very unlike the _gamme_, or hut,
of the coast Laplanders. The ant hills are five feet in height; and are
composed of decayed wood, pine-leaves, and bark, mixed up with earth and
strengthened by bits of branches, which must require the efforts of a
vast number to move. Streets and alleys branch off in every direction
from the main entrance, which is a foot wide; and outside, millions of
the little negroes, as they are called, may be seen bustling along
heavily laden. But now for the vinegar: a bottle half full of water is
plunged to the neck in one of these hills; the ants speedily creep in,
and are, of course, drowned; the contents are then boiled, and a strong
acid is produced, which is used for vinegar by all the inhabitants of

_January 1, Sunday._--My uncle read to us the “Song of Moses,” after the
escape of the Israelites from Pharaoh and his host. He then said; as
nearly as I can recollect, “This beautiful composition is not only a
thanksgiving for their memorable deliverance, but it contains also
precise prophecies of the downfal of the nations of Palestine, with the
settlement of the Israelites in their room; and of the establishment of
the temple on Mount Zion, with the ultimate destruction of all idolatry.

“It is the most ancient poem now extant, and shews the early connexion
which subsisted between poetry and religion: it is also a fine example
of that species of composition in which the Hebrews excelled; namely,
that of expressing in hymns of triumph their gratitude to God for his
glorious protection.

“‘The mountain of thine inheritance’ alludes to Mount Moriah, or Sion,
where Moses knew that God would fix his sanctuary; and which is
prophetically spoken of here as already completed.

“The whole army seem to have joined with one voice in this song; and
Miriam and all the women re-echoed it with equal rapture; yet while
almost in the very act of expressing their gratitude, this capricious
people began to murmur because there was a scarcity of water in the
wilderness through which it was necessary to pass; and, because when
they did come to a spring, the water was bitter. What a beginning for
the new life on which they were entering! Let us act more wisely, my
dear children; and, grateful for the blessings of the past, let us
endeavour to deserve their continuance through the new year on which we
are entering.”

We endeavoured to trace the march of the Israelites, on the map. My
uncle shewed us that the wilderness of Shur was a part of that great
sandy desert which divides Egypt from Palestine; and which stretches
from the Mediterranean to the head of the Red Sea on both sides. It is
supposed by the late celebrated traveller Burckhardt, that the place
called Marah, from the bitterness of its water, is the present Howara.
Its distance from the Red Sea corresponds with the three days’ march of
the Israelites; and there is a well there, of which he says, “the water
is so bitter, that men cannot drink it; and even camels, if not very
thirsty, refuse to taste it.” Irwin, another traveller, says that in
travelling 315 miles in this desert, he met with only four springs of

My uncle says, that Moses does not mention every place where the
Israelites encamped between the Red Sea and Mount Sinai, but those only
where something remarkable occurred. Elim, with its refreshing wells and
shady palm trees, must have been delightful in comparison with the
desert they had passed. Dr. Shaw, who visited that country the beginning
of last century, found nine of the twelve wells described in Exodus; the
other three had been probably filled up by those drifts of sand which
are so common in Arabia. But the palm trees alluded to by Moses had
increased amazingly, for, instead of threescore and ten, there were then
above two thousand. Under the shade of these trees he was shewn the
_Hammam Mousa_, or the Bath of Moses, for which the inhabitants have an
extraordinary veneration, as they pretend it was the exact spot where he
and his family encamped. From this place the Doctor could plainly see
Mount Sinai, or, as it is called in some parts of the Bible, Mount
Horeb. This seems to have been the general name of the whole mountain,
while Sinai was appropriated to the summit, which had three distinct
elevations: on the western one, God appeared to Moses in the bush; the
middle one, which is the highest, is that on which God gave the law to
Moses, and is still called Gebel Mousa, or the Mount of Moses; and the
third and most easterly is called St. Catherine’s Mount, from the
monastery which has been erected there.

_2d._--The poor wandering gipsy died in a very few days; and my aunt
immediately put her son under the care of the Franklins and the old
blind man. Charley is an intelligent little fellow, but will require
great care and attention; he speaks a sort of incomprehensible
gibberish, and understands but little of what is said to him. The
housekeeper asserts that nothing can civilize those gipsies, however
early they are taken in hand; but my aunt will try what mildness and
steadiness can effect: she has desired him to be treated very gently,
and his faults rather overlooked, till he can be made to understand the
value of a good character. My uncle has written about him to some of his
mother’s relations; but unless they are capable of taking care of him he
will not abandon the child. Mary and Caroline have bought some clothes
for him, and as just now I have no pocket money, not having managed my
last quarter well, I begged to be allowed to contribute time and work.

What an extraordinary thing it is, that these odd people, the Gipsies,
should have been wandering in the same unsettled manner about the world
for three centuries; and always the same dishonest impostors. My aunt
shewed us a passage in Clarke’s Travels, about the gipsies of
Wallachia--where he says, though they are as well inclined to steal as
the rest of their tribe, they are certainly of a more civilised nature.
They are divided there into different classes: some are domestics, and
are employed in the principal houses; others work as gold finers and
washers; some travel about as itinerant smiths; some as strolling
musicians, and others are dealers in cattle. They are skilful in finding
gold, and smelt it into small ingots; using for that purpose little low
furnaces, which they blow by a portable bellows made of a buckskin. The
construction of the bellows is very simple; an iron tube being tied into
the neck of the skin which is sewn up, and two wooden handles are
fastened to the legs, by which it is worked.

I was very curious to know what could be the origin of these people--and
why they have been always wandering about. My uncle told me, that ever
since the beginning of the fifteenth century, when they were first
noticed in Europe, the general idea has been, that they were Egyptians.
It is said, that when Egypt was conquered by the Turks, several of the
natives refusing to submit, revolted under one Zinganeus, and afterwards
dispersed in small parties all over the world.--From their supposed
skill in magic, they were well received; and being joined by idlers in
every country, they became so troublesome, that measures were taken to
expel them from England, France, and Spain. It is a remarkable
coincidence, my uncle says, that in Turkey, the gipsies are called
Tcheeganes; in Italy, Zingari; and in Germany, Zigeuner; all which seem
to be derived from the name of their first leader in Egypt: but, on the
other hand, they are sometimes found wandering about in that country,
apparently a distinct race from the natives, and without the least
affinity to them in features, customs, or language.

Attempts have been made to prove that they have come from India; and it
is said, that near the mouth of the Indus there is a people called
Zinganès. A learned German also has traced several points of resemblance
between the common language of the gipsies, and the dialect of a
district in Hindostan; for instance, all words ending in _j_ are
feminine in both languages, and both add the article to the end of the

These extraordinary creatures, my uncle added, may be found in every
country, from the western extremity of Europe to the easternmost parts
of Siberia; and in all, preserve their wild strolling habits, their
filthy modes of eating, their pretended power of fortune telling, their
expertness in petty thefts, and their love of intoxication.--In each
country too, they elect a chief, whom they dignify by some high-sounding
title, such as king, count, or lord, though never very obedient to his
will; and as one set off against their numerous vices, they are
generally extremely fond of their children.

_3rd._--Mrs. P. has been here now for several days, which have been
happy days to all, for she is so pleasing and gentle, and so mild, that
all like her.

She told me yesterday one thing, which, though it may look like vanity
to repeat, yet I know will gratify you so much, my own dear mamma, that
I cannot conceal it. She says, that she thinks me improved in many
respects in the few months that have passed since I left her. “Very much
in your manner and carriage; and above all,” she added, “you seem to
have lost the appearance of indolence that you had. I am rejoiced to see
that you have acquired that power of exertion, which is so useful both
to young and old--and that you have the will, as well as the power, to
conquer little habits that are disagreeable to your friends. I know,”
said she, “you will excuse me for saying this; for I feel a real
interest in your welfare, and I have myself suffered so much from a
foolish indifference to the opinion of others about what I considered
_trifles_, that I am always pleased when I see young people endeavour
to avoid the rock on which I split.”

I could not help shewing some surprise at this, for I thought it very
unlike her character; and though I did not venture to express any
curiosity, I suppose she saw a little in my countenance, for after some
more conversation she said, that she would give me a little sketch of
her life, because she thought I might derive some advantage from it.

We had not time to begin then--but I hope we shall to-morrow. In the
mean time I must not forget to tell you, lest you should think I had
lost all honourable principle, that I immediately informed Mrs. P. of
the kind of journal which I send to you--and asked her permission to
relate to you what she tells me; “but,” said I, “if you disapprove, I
will not mention it.” She replied, “you are perfectly welcome to tell
her every thing--for I very much disapprove of any confidence being made
to a young person that is to be concealed from her mother.”

_5th._--There was a lively little discussion last night, on the want of
originality in poetical ideas; and on the manner in which the same
thought is repeated by one author after another; each altering it, as my
uncle said, in the same way that an object is seen through glasses of
different colours. Or, said my aunt, with its original strength weakened
by each repetition, like the successive reflections of the same object
from a number of mirrors. And, though I did not venture it below stairs,
you shall have my simile: like the Fata Morgana, where the objects
reflected from the surface of the sea are again reflected from the
clouds, but less distinct and generally inverted.

The conversation began by my uncle and aunt, and Mrs. P., and by degrees
my cousins joined. A great distinction was made between gross
plagiarism, and the borrowing a part only of an idea which the author
weaves up with something new, and then places in a new light.

My aunt brought, as an example, these lines in the Lady of the Lake.

    The sun, awakening, through the smoky air
      Of the dark city, casts a sullen glance,
    Rousing each caitiff to his task of care,
      Of sinful man the sad inheritance;
    Summoning revellers from the lagging dance,
      Scaring the prowling robber in his den;
    Gilding on battled tower the warder’s lance;
      And warning student pale to leave his pen,
    And yield his drowsy eyes to the kind nurse of men.

She said, these lines seemed to have been produced, perhaps
unconsciously, by a speech of Shakspeare’s Richard II.

               ---- Know’st thou not,
    That when the searching eye of heaven is hid
    Behind the globe, and lights the lower world,
    Then thieves and robbers range abroad unseen,
    In murders, and in outrage bloody, here;
    But when from under this terrestrial ball,
    He fires the proud tops of the eastern pines,
    And darts his light through every guilty hole;
    Then murders, treasons, and detested sins,
    The cloak of night being pluck’d from off their backs,
    Stand bare and naked, trembling at themselves.

In this case they all agreed that an author might insensibly dwell on an
idea, alter, dress, and add to it, till he was no longer aware whence
the original thought had come--as in a large company, a single word
which happens to come to our ears from a group in another part of the
room produces sometimes an interesting conversation, though none of the
party engaged in it know well how it began.

Mrs. P. said that similar turns of thought and expression may be traced
back through the whole chain of poets; and that if Homer appears to be
an original genius, it is because we cannot now compare him with his
predecessors. Few of our old writers were less exposed to the charge of
borrowing than Spenser, and yet she could not help imagining that the
Persian tale of Fadlallah was the origin of those pretty stanzas in the
Faërie Queene, where the dove who watches over Belphœbe and her
despairing swain, contrives that they shall once more be reconciled.

Mary said she thought it had more resemblance to the story of
Camaralzaman, in the Arabian Nights, who was enticed from hill to hill
in pursuit of the bird who had carried off the princess’s talisman.
“That cruel bird,” said she, “leads Camaralzaman away only to separate
him from his beloved princess; but the same idea in Spenser’s hands
becomes a hundred times more beautiful. The dove is represented as the
constant and tender companion of the youth who had long languished in
grief for the loss of his Belphœbe; his ‘dole’ is soothed by the
caresses and sympathy of the bird; and at last, in order to gaze at a
ruby heart, which she had given him in happier times, he fastens it
round its neck. Away flies the kind-hearted dove, who gains the notice
of Belphœbe, and gently winning her forward in pursuit of the well-known
ruby, succeeds in restoring the long-parted lovers to each other.”

Mrs. P. acknowledged that Mary’s opinion was more just than her own; and
my aunt, looking at me, said, “I think I see in Bertha’s countenance
that she has not read the Faërie Queene: suppose, Caroline, you were to
refresh our recollections, and read those pretty stanzas for your

Caroline did so; and as I know you have not Spenser among your books,
and as his old-fashioned style will amuse Marianne, I will transcribe
the two last stanzas, where Belphœbe, attracted by her jewel, follows
the benevolent bird.

      She, her beholding with attentive eye,
      At length did marke about her purple brest
      That precious iuell, which she formerly
      Had knowne right well, with colourd ribbands drest:
      Therewith she rose in hast, and her addrest
      With ready hand it to have reft away;
      But the swift bird obayd not her behest,
      But swarv’d aside, and there againe did stay;
    She followed her, and thought againe it to assay.

      And ever when she nigh approcht, the dove
      Would flit a little forward, and then stay
      Till she drew neare, and then againe remove;
      So tempting still her to pursue the prey,
      And still from her escaping soft away;
      Till that at length into that forrest wide
      She drew her far, and led with slow delay;
      In th’ end she her unto that place did guide
    Whereat that woful man in languor did abide.

_7th._--My curiosity about frost has been gratified. Each of the last
three nights the thermometer has been below the freezing point--last
night it was 28°. The ground is hard, and grass, trees, and shrubs, are
quite white. Nothing can be more beautiful--each blade of grass
sparkling with gems, every branch and spray covered with delicate
crystals, and the leaves of the fir-trees hanging like little miniature

I asked my uncle where the frost comes from. “It is in fact,” said he,
“frozen dew; when the ground is cooled down to 32°, the dew deposited on
it is congealed, and becomes hoar frost. This often happens when the
temperature of the atmosphere is much higher; and I have seen a copious
hoar frost in a clear calm night, though the air was not colder than

When I begged my uncle to explain that, he told me that, from the
satisfactory observations of Dr. Wells, it appears that the heat which
the earth receives from the sun in the day is returned or _radiated_
back again from the earth during the night, and is dispersed in the sky;
the surface of the earth thus becomes cold from its sudden loss of heat,
and congeals the dew. The cold produced by this radiation of heat from
the earth, is always less if any substance be interposed between it and
the sky; not only a solid body, but even a fog, or clouds, have this
effect, because they intercept the heat, and perhaps again send back a
portion of it to the earth; and this, he added, is the reason why a
bright clear night is generally colder than a cloudy night.

I asked my uncle if that was also the reason that such slight
substances, as straw or mats, are found to protect tender plants from

“Yes,” said he; “I used to wonder how such thin, open things as Russia
mats could prevent plants from becoming of the same temperature as the
atmosphere; but when I learned that all bodies at night give out their
heat by radiating it, unless some covering be interposed, which acts,
not by keeping out the cold, but by preventing their heat from flying
off, then I perceived the reason of what before had appeared to me to be
almost useless.”

He described several experiments he had tried to satisfy himself on this
subject. He found that even a cambric handkerchief was sufficient; and
that when raised a few inches in the air, the warmth of the grass
beneath was 3° greater than that of a neighbouring piece of grass which
was sheltered by a similar handkerchief actually in contact with it. All
his experiments confirmed those of Dr. Wells, and shewed that by placing
substances for the shelter of plants, not directly touching them, the
effect was increased. Snow acts in the same manner as a preservative of
plants when the ground is not already frozen.

Some other experiments my uncle then described, and he endeavoured to
make me understand Dr. Wells’s general opinions on the formation of dew.
He also mentioned the curious method they have in India of forming
artificial ice in earthen-ware pans, where the temperature of the air is
even 12 or 14 degrees above the freezing point. He concluded by saying,
“I do not tell you all these particulars, Bertha, merely to stuff your
memory with philosophical shreds and patches, but to excite your mind to
observation and inquiry, which is a hundred times more useful.”

_8th, Sunday._--The _Ephod_ being mentioned in a part of the Scripture I
was reading this morning, I asked my uncle to describe it, for I had but
a confused idea of the dress of the high priest. He says the name is
derived from a Hebrew word, signifying _to tie_. It was made of linen,
and brought from behind the back, over each shoulder; and then crossing
the breast, it was passed round the waist so as to form a girdle; the
two ends hanging down before. The _Breast-plate of Judgement_, which was
so called because the high priest wore it only when he went to consult
the Divine Majesty, was made of the same materials as the ephod; and
being two spans in length by one in breadth, it formed a square when
doubled. The span, he says, was half a cubit, or about ten inches.

I then begged of my uncle to explain the nature of the _Urim_ and
_Thummim_. He told me that the words signify _light_ and _perfection_;
but as Moses does not appear to have received directions for making
them, it is impossible now to form any distinct idea of the materials of
which those sacred ornaments were composed, or of the manner in which
they were employed, in order to obtain answers from the mercy-seat in
the Tabernacle. The opinions of the learned have therefore been very
various on those points: the Jews think they consisted of precious
stones, which were so arranged that the partial brilliancy of certain
characters engraved on them pointed out the required reply. Others
suppose that they were merely parts of the grand dress, which qualified
the high priest to present himself in the holy place on great occasions.
But the question is of little importance to us; like many other
mysteries attending the Divine ordinances, we vainly endeavour to
penetrate their meaning: we may, however, feel assured, Bertha, that if
these things were necessary to be understood by us, they would have been
fully explained. Many ceremonies in the ritual given to the Israelites,
were adapted to them as a people who had lived amongst the heathens, and
who had imbibed those prejudices and depravities of heathen worship,
which were so totally removed from every thing spiritual. To us they may
be objects of rational curiosity; but a knowledge of their use or
precise fabric could add no essential testimony to the well-established
truths of Scripture History.

“There is, however, one mode of viewing the subject, from which we may
derive a useful hint: the high priest could not address the Almighty
when divested of this emblem of light and perfection; in like manner our
addresses to God will be of no use, unless we also are adorned, not
indeed with the _emblem_ of light, but with the true light of the
Gospel; with that clear and bright faith which makes us feel the power
and goodness of Him to whom we pray.”

_9th._--The beautiful hoar-frost at first gave to every twig and blade
of grass the modest, quiet appearance of a wreath of pearls; but last
night there was a slight shower of rain, and now every thing is
glittering like diamonds. We observed, also, another peculiarly pretty
circumstance: the wet being immediately frozen, every thing was
enveloped with thin transparent ice, through which the leaves, and
berries, and branches, were distinctly seen. Mary immediately repeated
these lines:

    Every shrub, and every blade of grass,
    And every pointed thorn seem’d wrought in glass;
    In pearls and rubies rich the hawthorns show,
    While through the ice the crimson berries glow.

Already the birds are become tame, and many venture courageously to take
crumbs off the window-stones. Poor little birds, this bright clear air,
and sunshine, make every body else look gay, while they sit shivering or
sadly chirping on the trees; even the hens and ducks look swelled and

We walked to-day to Franklin’s farm, and found him taking advantage of
the hardened ground, to put out manure; he had two carts employed, and
all the people seemed trying to keep themselves warm by hard work.

The field which had been left to remain _fallow_, will be much improved
by this frost, he says. It was a coarse, wet soil, full of lumps of
heavy clay; and he shewed us how much these lumps were already broken.
My uncle said that the soil being thus divided, and pulverised, would be
greatly meliorated; so, as we walked home, I asked him why the lumps of
wet clay were broken by frost, which I thought would only have hardened
them the more, like the road on which we were walking.

“The reason why the clods of wet earth are burst by the frost, is, that
the water which they contain becomes ice; and, in doing so, it swells,
and therefore requires greater space than while it was water. In the
process of freezing, water crystallizes, and every crystal drives away
the adjacent particles which interfere with its exact formation. This
does not happen to hard roads, such as we are now walking upon, because
they are closely _bound_, and do not admit the previous entrance of the
moisture; but if the road was soft and spongy, you would then probably
see, in its rough and uneven face, the effect of the frozen water. When
we return home, if you look at the piece of gravel walk which was lately
made, and is not, therefore, yet bound, you will observe what a curious
appearance the frost gives it; the larger stones, which by their weight
prevented the water from spreading under them, will appear sunk; while
the sandy, spongy part which imbibed the rain, is swelled by the frost,
and raises the surface of the walk. All crystals have a regular form,
and in assuming it, they are obliged to recede a little from each other;
each crystal, it is true, has but little power, but as their number is
almost infinite, their combined power is so great, that what is called
in military language a _shell_, that is, a hollow ball of strong cast
iron, if filled with water and the aperture well secured, will burst
when the water freezes. When such is the expansive power excited by
water as it passes into the state of ice, we cannot be surprised that
jugs and bottles of water are frequently broken in a frosty night--and
that water pipes constantly burst when the frost penetrates to them.”

_10th._--The frost was so great last night, that it caused sad mischief.
The thermometer sunk to 24°. Mary had two nice hyacinths in bottles;
unfortunately, she placed them yesterday in a window where there was a
bright sunshine; Frederick having promised to put them back safely in
the latter part of the day. He forgot them; but, as soon as he woke this
morning, he went to repair his error--when, to his great dismay, he
found the glasses burst, and the water lumps of ice.

He went to Mary, but he was so sorry for his negligence, that she could
not reproach him. The only thing to be done, she said, is now to
consider how to relieve the bulbs from the ice that surrounds them.
Frederick proposed placing them near the fire, that the heat might thaw
the ice; but Mary told him that she was afraid the sudden change from
cold to heat would make the bulbs decay--and that the best plan, she
thought, was to put them into cold water. Mary had called me to look at
the glasses on the first discovery of the misfortune; and we carried
them and the bulbs inclosed in ice, to my uncle, who had just come down
to the library, to consult him on what was best to be done. He approved
of Mary’s proposal, and said, “That is a practical instance of the
advantage of acquiring different kinds of knowledge.” Mary had
concluded, that the sudden change of temperature would produce immediate
decay in the roots--on the same principle that heat applied to people
who have been frost bitten, causes mortification in the frozen part. My
uncle afterwards told me, that the same thing happens to the frozen buds
of tender plants, which are exposed to the rays of a hot sun before the
frost has been dispersed; while those which are gradually thawed receive
no injury.

I reminded him of his having spoken of _crystals_ of ice, and asked how
that term could be applied to any thing but mineral bodies.

“The term crystal,” he replied, “came from the Greek word for ice--it
was afterwards applied to rock crystal, which the ancients imagined to
be water converted into stone; but it now signifies the regular figure
in which the particles of any substance arrange themselves in passing
from the liquid to the solid state.--Each of those substances has a
figure for its crystal peculiar to itself, and from which it never
varies. Common salt, for instance, dissolved in water, and slowly
evaporated, always forms regular _cubic_ crystals of about an eighth of
an inch in diameter, and quite transparent; sugar candy is nothing but
sugar crystallized into _six_-sided prisms; and alum forms itself into
beautiful crystals of _eight_ sides. All this you may easily ascertain
for yourself by experiment; and when I have an opportunity of taking you
to a smelting house, you will see that in the cooling of melted metals,
each metal assumes a crystalline shape belonging to itself.”

I asked how, and when, all the crystals and precious stones and salts in
the world could ever have been in a fluid state.

“One thing at a time,” said my uncle: “that question would lead us quite
away from ice. I was going to tell you, that water, in the same manner
as salt or metals, when it ceases to be fluid, which happens at the
temperature of 32° of Fahrenheit’s thermometer, assumes a constant
regular form. Now, Bertha,” he said, “examine this lump of ice, which
was in the broken glass, both with and without your magnifying
glass--and tell me how it appears.”

I told him, that to my naked eye it seemed as if there were lines
crossing and recrossing one another in an uneven manner; but that, with
the glass, it appeared like a collection of little spears with pointed
ends, laid very closely together and mostly darting from the places
where the ice had touched either the bulb or the side of the glass

“Yes,” said my uncle, “that is what I wished you to observe;--when ice
begins to form on the surface of water, several of those spear-shaped
_spicula_ shoot from the edge of whatever contains the water, or from
any solid body which happens to be in the water,--a bit of wood or even
a straw.”

I interrupted my uncle to beg he would explain the word spicula--I know
he is never displeased at being interrupted by a question of that sort.

He told me that _spiculum_ is a Latin word, and means a dart or an
arrow, or sometimes the sting of a bee,--_spicula_ is the plural, and is
commonly used in English to express any small pointed bodies.

“To return to the ice,” said he: “that first set of spicula serve as
bases for a new set, and these again for others; each single spiculum
diverges or spreads from its own base at an angle of nearly 60°, and
therefore they all cross each other in an infinite variety of
directions, and this process continues till one even sheet of ice is
formed.” I asked my uncle, if the reason why the ice occupies more space
than the water was, that those spicula or crystals, from their shape,
and from shooting in various directions, cannot lie so closely together
as the minute particles of water.--

“Yes,” said he, “you are perfectly right--a proof of this is, that it
requires great power to compress water in the smallest degree; while the
hardest ice, if pounded, may be easily forced into a smaller space.”

We all again examined the formation of the ice in the broken glasses,
and I saw the pretty little spicula quite distinctly--we then went to
breakfast, leaving the bulbs to thaw quietly in their cold bath.

_11th._--After the hyacinth roots were thawed yesterday, they were
placed in a warm room; and we had a great deal of conversation about the
different effects of heat and cold, according to the different bodies
that are exposed to them. I learned that extreme heat is necessary to
liquefy steel, platina, or porcelain; some metals require far less, and
Mrs. P. says she once bought in a toy shop, some spoons made of bismuth,
tin and lead, which melted in a cup of hot tea. The warmth of the skin
is sufficient to thaw frozen water. On the other hand, the degree of
cold requisite to render mercury solid is very great, while that which
forms ice is moderate.

Among vegetables, there are many which resist the strongest frost, and
the native trees here have their stems very seldom injured. Most of the
herbaceous plants lose their stalks, though their roots remain alive;
and some revive at the return of spring even after their roots have been

Ants and flies, and many other insects, fall asleep in a very slight
degree of cold.--Dormice, also, and other animals of the same class,
appear as if life was suspended for several months during cold weather,
so much so that their heart ceases to beat. The snail and the toad
undergo the same stupefying effect, and serpents can be frozen so as to
become brittle; if they are broken in that state, they die, but if left
in their holes, into which the warmth of spring penetrates slowly, they
recover.--It is in the season when their food begins to fail, and the
fruits which fattened them disappear, that these creatures conceal
themselves in order to submit to this wise law of nature. Those that are
deprived of food by the snow covering the ground, sleep till it melts.
The white bear lives on the sea shore in summer, and on islands of ice
in autumn, and he does not fall asleep till the ice, being thickened and
raised too high above the water, is no longer the resort of his chief
prey, the seal. His means of obtaining food continuing longer, a much
severer cold is requisite to deaden in him the call of seeking it, than
in the black bear who devours vegetables; or than in the brown bear who
lives on animals who retire earlier than he does.--That hunger should
thus give way to sleep, when the cold which benumbs them would starve
them by famine, appears ordered by that benevolent Providence, who
regulates every part of the universe.

My uncle says that something like this is the case in man; when the cold
is very violent he becomes insensible; if one of his limbs should freeze
he does not perceive it, but on the contrary fancies himself growing
warmer, and feels such a propensity to sleep, that he is angry at being
roused. There are continual instances of this in the northern parts of
Europe; and the poor frozen person, if indulged by his companions in
closing his eyes for a few minutes, seldom opens them again. He does
not, however, die immediately, my uncle says: it is even thought by
some, that as long as the same temperature continued, he would sleep
like the dormouse, deprived of all vital action.

My aunt said, she wondered whether human creatures could be revived,
after having been many days frozen, provided similar means were used for
their recovery that are employed to restore a frozen limb. Warmth, she
said, is applied with the utmost caution, the frozen parts are rubbed
with snow and then immersed in water very little warmer than melted ice.
The attempt would be worth making, instead of abandoning frozen people
to their fate, she thought; but that as to having the power of sleeping
like a dormouse or a bear, to whom Providence gives that habit, because
they have no means of procuring food, she could not believe that
possible. “Man has so many resources, that it was evidently unnecessary
to endow him with the capability for sleeping away hunger; but I really
believe,” she added, “that there are people of such inveterate
indolence, that they would sleep for several months to relieve
themselves from all care, if they had the power of voluntary torpidity.”

My uncle replied that doubts have been expressed whether it was in any
case a voluntary power; it is asserted that animals never yield to
torpidity till driven to it by necessity; and that many of those
lethargic animals, while existing during winter on their accumulated
fat, which is gradually absorbed into the system, retain the use of
their faculties. The cricket is one proof, that animals do not submit to
it from choice. This insect passes the hottest part of summer in
crevices of walls and heaps of rubbish; about the end of August it quits
its summer dwelling, and endeavours to establish itself by the fireside,
where the comforts of a warm hearth secure it from torpidity. He then
mentioned a colony of crickets which had taken up their abode in a
kitchen, where the fire was discontinued from November to June, except
one day every six weeks. On these days they were tempted from their
hiding place, and continued to skip about and chirp till the following
morning, when they again disappeared in consequence of the returning
cold. This fact, which he was told by an ingenious friend, shews that in
crickets at least torpidity depends on circumstances; and perhaps other
sleeping animals, he says, have the same accommodating faculties.

Mrs. P. amused us with some very extraordinary accounts of toads that
have been found in the stems of old trees, so that the wood must have
grown round them; and even in cavities of stones without the smallest
crack or aperture for any communication with the air. My uncle told her
that an experiment had not long ago been tried at Paris on that curious
subject: a living toad was inclosed in plaster, and at the end of six
months it was alive and strong; but some one having suggested that
plaster of Paris when dry is more or less porous, the same experiment
has been repeated with the addition of a coat of varnish to prevent the
admission of air.

Before we separated, my uncle promised to procure for me if possible a
torpid dormouse.

_12th._--You must allow, mamma, that my journal never detains you very
long on any one subject: from polar bears and frozen limbs we must now
skip to tobacco plantations and the West Indies, where you know, Mrs.
P. resided some time.

My uncle was inquiring from her this evening about the different modes
of culture and the proper soil for tobacco. Few plants, she says, are so
much affected by situation; it acquires such different qualities from
the soil, that tobacco plants which have been raised in one district, if
transplanted into another, though not a quarter of a mile distant, will
entirely change their flavour. For instance: the Macabau snuff is made
from the leaves of a tobacco plant which takes its name from the parish
of Macabau in St. Kitt’s, and there only the real snuff of that name can
be prepared. Both plants and seed have been tried in all parts of that
island, and in several of the other islands too, but the peculiar scent
has not in any instance been retained.

The tobacco of St. Thomas has also a particular smell, which the produce
of no other island resembles. It is a curious circumstance that none of
it is manufactured there; it is all sent to Copenhagen, and is returned
from thence to St. Thomas, and made into snuff. In Barbadoes they make
the highly scented rose-snuff, which is sometimes imitated in London by
adding attar of rose to fine rapee; but in the island it is made by
grating into the snuff a fruit called the rose-apple, which is
cultivated for that purpose. It is, however, neither a rose nor an
apple, though, when ripe, it somewhat resembles a crab-apple; but it has
a stone within, and has at all times a delightful fragrance like the
rose. The fruit, when ripe, is gathered, and carefully dried in the

But what interested me much more than all her snuff and tobacco, was the
account she gave of some dear little green humming-birds, that used
constantly to build amongst the flowers of a convolvolus that grew
against the house near her window. She took the greatest pleasure in
listening to their little feeble notes, and in watching their rapid
motions and all their habits. They were of a smaller species than any of
our little Brazilian beauties; and she says the eggs were actually just
the size of coriander seeds!

_14th._--As I was curious to see the effect of frost on a very wet soil,
Frederick and I went this morning to a spot in the low fields, where we
knew it was always swampy. We observed that, as we walked there, the
ground crackled, and sunk a little beneath our feet; so Frederick went
for a spade, and we gently raised up one of the large lumps between two
of the cracks. We found very near the surface a thin crust of ice, and
under that a forest of minute columns of ice, standing close together
like a fairy palace, with rows in it of clustered pillars; for each
column was in reality composed of several lesser ones, not thicker than
large pins. You cannot think, mamma, how pretty they were.

When we raised one of these cluster columns with its capital of earth,
it separated quite easily from the ground beneath it; but still a thin
film of earth remained sticking to the bottom of the column. Frederick
brought home a lump of these icy pillars on the spade, and my uncle laid
aside his letters, to shew, he said, how much pleasure he felt when he
saw us in pursuit of knowledge. As soon as he looked at our pillars, he
said, “In that sort of spongy soil where you found them, these icy
crystals are formed so immediately under the surface, that only a thin
crust of earth remains over their tops; and the film of clay, which
sticks to the bottom of the column, shews you that the frost has not
penetrated below it, but that the earth beneath continues soft. I see
you are looking at those marks across the pillars: break the column at
one of the marks.”

I did break one, and found exactly such a film of earth between the two
parts of the column, as that which was on the bottom of it. I asked how
could earth get into the middle of the crystal?

“Each division,” said my uncle, “shews a separate crystal--each crystal
was formed in one night,--and the number of joints or interruptions in
the column shew how many nights we have had frost.”

I reckoned four divisions in each column; the uppermost was the
longest, the next shorter, and so on; and I pointed out that
circumstance to my uncle.

“That,” said he, “is easily accounted for; whatever quantity of moisture
there was in the ground at first, there must have been less and less
every succeeding night, and the length of the columns therefore
diminished each night in the same proportion.”

In a short walk that we afterwards took with my uncle, he observed, as
we passed the garden of a small cottage on the border of the forest,
that it was late to see carrots still in the ground; and Frederick
remarked that the earth looked cracked and swelled round them. My uncle
asked leave of the cottager to go into the garden, and there we found
that several carrots were actually pushed upwards by the icy columns,
the tops of which adhered to the crown of the plant, from which the
leaves spring. As the additional joints of the columns had formed, they
had acted with so much force, as, in some cases, to break the small
fibres by which the root is held in the ground; and in others even the
end of the tap root of the carrot was snapped asunder.

I took an opportunity of asking my uncle if there are any spicula in an
icicle, which looks so transparent and smooth.

He explained to me, that an icicle assumes its smooth conical form from
the gradual congealing of the water as it flows down the surface of the
icicle. When broken across, he shewed me that it was somewhat radiated
in the structure, as if the spicula arranged themselves round the axis;
and he added that if I examined a flake of snow, I might see the same

I next asked him (indeed he is very patient) if it is the shooting of
these spicula that causes the beautiful appearance of leaves and flowers
on the windows; he said, yes. But why then are the shapes of the leaves
so very various?

“On a calm night,” he replied, “only a close, even net-work is formed;
but the least current of air whirls the moisture into an amusing variety
of forms. That icy foliage is generally withinside the window, because
our breath contains much moist vapour; and as no room that has doors,
windows, and chimnies, can be without partial drafts of air, so the
spicula are urged together in one place, and irregularly checked in

_15th, Sunday._--Frederick asked my uncle this morning, why the work of
the tabernacle was so minutely described in the Bible.

“It is supposed,” he replied, “that Moses has been thus exact in
relating how the tabernacle was made, in order to shew that all was done
according to God’s directions, detailed in the preceding chapters; and
it is therefore that Moses so frequently repeats the expression ‘as the
Lord commanded.’

“In reading the account of the Jewish tabernacle, as well as of the
various ceremonies of the law, we should always consider for what ends
God was pleased to ordain those things. St. Paul informs us that the
Jewish law was an imperfect dispensation from the first, and added, that
though it was adapted to the weakness of the Jews, its several
institutions were intended to typify the more perfect dispensation of
the Gospel. Thus, the Jewish high priest was a manifest type of our
Saviour; and the ark in the Holy of Holies, with its mercy-seat, from
whence God communicated his will, was an emblem of Him from whose mouth
we afterwards received the perfect law.

“The religious services ordained, were _sacrifices_ of different kinds,
and various _purifications_. All these apparently burdensome rites were,
however, aptly significant of many things tending to preserve an inward,
true religion; such as the constant acknowledgment that all the
blessings we enjoy are the direct gifts of God; 2dly, the feelings of
reverence due to his temple, and to all the things appropriated to his
service; 3dly, the necessity of curbing our passions, and of atoning for
past errors; and further, the impossibility of rooting out our evil
habits without vigorous exertions. These and other moral objects, of
the same nature, were well understood by the Israelites to be
specifically represented in the ceremonial law.

“There were, also, certain solemn _festivals_ ordained as commemorations
of signal national mercies and deliverances. Nothing could have been
better calculated to keep alive the spirit of gratitude to the bountiful
Author of those mercies; and that nothing could be more consistent with
the feelings of the human mind, has been exemplified by the practice of
every age and nation, in the anniversary observances of religious,
national and domestic events.”

_16th._--The frost still continues; and instead of being miserably cold,
as I expected, I almost enjoy it. There is not much wind, and the air
feels dry and clear. We take long quick walks in the bright part of the
day while the sun shines. The rooms are very comfortable, and I find, as
my aunt told me, that I am less chilly when I stay at a moderate
distance, than when I sit quite close to the fire. In the latter part of
the day, if we begin to grow cold after the glow of warmth produced by
walking is gone, we take some good house exercise, and that always
brings it back.

Frederick asked my uncle to-day, whether it is by the loosening of the
earth round the roots of plants as we saw, last Saturday, had happened
to the carrots, that frost kills them?

“Perhaps,” said he, “that may have some injurious effect upon tender
plants; but it is by bursting the sap vessels that frost does the most

“I suppose the sap freezes, and that its expansion bursts the vessels?”
I said.

“Just so,” replied my uncle; “this frequently occurs, even in moderate
frosts, to tender plants, especially if they are succulent. But in very
severe winters even forest trees have suffered. In the great frost of
1739 and 1740, the largest branches were split from end to end, and
numbers of the most hardy trees died in consequence.”

All this made me very anxious about my garden and my nice plants; I had
already put stable litter on them; and I asked my uncle, if that should
be frozen through, what he would recommend me to do.

He advised me to bend some long withies of sallow over them, so as to
leave a small space above the surface of the litter, and over the
sallows to spread either a mat or fir boughs; and he reminded me that he
had explained some days ago the use of this process.

“Besides which,” said Mary, “I believe the stillness of the air under
the covering helps to delay the freezing of the moisture in the ground.
I recollect that the winter before last, which was very severe, Mamma
had fir branches hung on the wall to cover her tender climbing plants,
and long stiff straw or fern was lightly strewed round their roots, and
they all lived through the winter, and looked healthy and beautiful in

My uncle told me for my satisfaction, that a long frost, if not very
intense, is less injurious to tender plants, than a milder season in
which soft weather and frost alternate: in open weather there is a
tendency in the sap to rise; and if it is checked by succeeding cold,
the sap vessels are injured, and the plant becomes sickly or decays.

“Is that,” said Frederick, “the reason why spring frosts are more
hurtful than those of winter?”

“That is the principal reason; but you must also consider that the
ground during the previous summer had absorbed a great quantity of heat,
which helps to mitigate the winter’s cold: this has been all expended
before spring, and therefore the whole force of the cold is then felt.”

Frederick said he remembered hearing Mr. Grant mention last autumn that
all the potatoes had been injured by frost in Alney valley near
Gloucester, while those on the side of the hill had quite escaped; and
as he thought valleys must be warmer than hills, he begged of my uncle
to explain the cause.

“Valleys,” he was answered, “are more sheltered from the wind; and the
air in them is undoubtedly hotter in the day time than that on exposed
high grounds. But in autumn, when the nights become cold, and slight
frosts occur on the sides of the hills, the air that is cooled there
being heavier than warm air, sinks down into the lower grounds,
displaces the warm air, which rises, and accumulates in the bottom of
the valley.

“There is another reason why, on clear nights at least, the cold is more
severe in low confined places that are sheltered from the wind. The
radiation of heat into the sky, which I lately explained to you, reduces
their temperature below that of the air, except what is in immediate
contact with them; and there being no wind, there can be no circulation
of the warmer air to replace the heat they have lost.”

_17th._--Hamlet was mentioned yesterday after dinner; a great deal was
said about it, and many different opinions were expressed. At last, to
my great vexation, my uncle observed that I took no part in the

“Come, my little Bertha, we must have your opinion, pro or con; are you
one of those who overlook the merits to mark the faults? Tell me what
you think.”

This direct question of my uncle’s was really terrible; every creature
was silent--and I was obliged to acknowledge that I had only read Hamlet
once, not having felt as much interest in it, as in many other tragedies
of Shakspeare. There was something which appeared to me a little
confused in the whole plot--the ghost, too, disappointed me:--and Hamlet
seemed unnecessarily unkind to poor Ophelia--and in short I did not very
much like the play, perhaps because I did not understand it.

My uncle praised me for having courage to express honestly what I
thought; and he said he would read the play to us, that I might enter
into the spirit of it while the conversation was fresh in my
recollection. He had taken but little part in the conversation, his
object being rather to draw out all our opinions, than to influence them
by his own; but as he was going to begin, he said, “It appears to me
that Hamlet is not quite suited to very young people: it scarcely comes
within the range of their views of the human mind. One of the earliest
critics on Shakspeare remarked that Hamlet ‘can only please the wiser
sort;’ and I will therefore endeavour, by a few hints, to direct your
attention to the main object of the play, and to one or two objects
most worth noticing. Unless young people learn how to see and think for
themselves, liking or disliking becomes the mere effects of caprice or

“In this play, Bertha, the object of chief interest is not the plot nor
even the events--it is character. The reader easily anticipates the
story, and feels no great suspense as to the fate of the king or queen;
and though our love of justice naturally makes us rejoice in the
punishment of vice, almost all our feelings are absorbed by the
character of Hamlet--the impulses of his noble mind, and the indignation
he feels at unexpected wickedness.

“The passions of the various persons in this drama are displayed with
equal truth and strength. Hamlet’s grief and horror at the death of his
father, and at his mother’s baseness, are beautifully and naturally
expressed. He feels as a virtuous and honourable man, but he feels also
as a son; and in those contending feelings lie the great interest of the
piece. Even in the utmost vehemence of his indignation, his manner of
treating his mother is remarkable; and, as some writer has observed, it
is that which chiefly distinguishes his character from that of Orestes,
and shews indeed, in the difference between those two heroes, the
opposite principles of the Christian, and the heathen, authors.

“As to his madness, you may perceive that it was feigned in order to
prevent all suspicion, on the part of the king, of the enterprise he was
engaged in; and to confirm that idea he affects a severity of conduct
towards Ophelia in direct opposition to his former sentiments. In the
distracted state of his mind, he could not possibly explain to her the
cause of his suspended affection. His ruling passion was to think, not
to act; and all his principles of action were unhinged by the harassing
scene around him. Though he contrived the scene in the play to prove the
truth of the ghost’s suggestions, yet he appears to rest satisfied with
the confirmation of his suspicions, and declines to act upon them. But,
though his character does not shew strength of will, it is every where
marked by quick sensibility, and refinement of thought.

“The other characters have also great merit. Ophelia is beautifully
painted; her love, her madness, and her death, are described with the
truest touches of tenderness and pathos. Polonius is an excellent
representation of a large class of men, who talk wisely and act
foolishly. The advice he gives his son is sensible, while that to the
king and queen respecting Hamlet’s madness is ridiculous; but, the one
is the sincere advice of a father, the other that of a meddling and
officious courtier; and throughout this part Shakspeare keeps up the
nice distinctions between the understanding, the habits, and the motives
of mankind.

“The plot of this play may be, as Bertha says, confused, and the
catastrophe, as Johnson tells us, not very happily produced by the
awkward exchange of weapons; but if you study it as a display of
character, you will discover fresh beauties every time you read it; you
will perceive that it is of a higher order of dramatic painting than
many of Shakspeare’s more popular works, and that it abounds in the most
eloquent and striking reflections on human life.”

_18th._--The Lumleys arrived yesterday; my aunt having invited them to
meet Mrs. P. I feel very glad, indeed, to see them again, and I am not
this time out of humour at interruption from visiters.

We amused ourselves part of yesterday evening with _story play_, which I
had never heard of before. You are to whisper a _word_, which must be a
substantive, to the person who begins the play, and who is to tell a
short story or anecdote, into which that word is to be frequently
introduced. It requires some ingenuity to relate the story in so natural
a manner, that the word shall not be too evident, and yet that it may be
sufficiently marked. When the story is finished, each of the party
endeavours to guess the word, and the person who discovers it tells the
next story. I will give you a sample.

It was decided that my aunt should begin; Frederick whispered the word;
and she began so naturally about a visit from Mr. Arthur Maude, who has
just returned from Italy, that, at first, I thought she was not going to
join in the play.

“Mr. Maude tells me,” continued my aunt, “that he has been greatly
interested by the Vaudois, and well repaid, by seeing those amiable
people, for the fatigue of making that part of his tour on foot.

“In a beautiful valley between Pignerola and La Tour, he observed a
small open arch, under a group of oak trees, that stood on a round green
knoll. He afterwards learned, that this arch had been erected about the
time that the poor Vaudois had been obliged to quit their native hills,
under the brave and pious Arnaud. It was ornamented with figures of
saints, and had such an uncommon appearance among those wild valleys,
that he sat down to make a sketch, not only of the arch, but of the
picturesque scene which surrounded it. Twice he began, and twice he was
interrupted by sounds of distress, which seemed to come from within the
arch. On approaching it, he found a young creature about fifteen, seated
under the shade of the arch, and plying her distaff diligently while
the tears fell from her eyes. In reply to his inquiries as to the cause
of her grief, she timidly told him, that her poor old father had been so
ill that he could earn nothing for many weeks; and having already been
reduced to sell every thing but his house, he was totally unable to pay
one of the heavy taxes which was now demanded from him. She had,
therefore, been spinning--spinning--for ever with her distaff, but all
in vain; her yarn was not ready, they must pay the tax without delay,
and to do so she must part with the only treasure she possessed: that
was the cause of her sorrow; and she had retired to that little arch to
avoid the sun, and to conceal her tears from her father.

“‘For that one thing, I can get money enough,’ said she, ‘but how can I
part with it! It was once the Bible of Henri Arnaud; my grandmother gave
it to me, saying, “Never, never part with this precious book, Janetta.”
But, what can I do?’--and her tears burst out afresh. ‘I _must_ sell
Henri Arnaud’s bible, or my father will have no house to shelter him!’

“Mr. Maude asked her to guide him to her father’s cottage. She took him
by a winding path which led from the arch, to a very poor little chalet,
overhung by chesnut trees. The old man was seated on a bench at his
door; and Mr. Maude, placing himself at his side, and entering into
conversation, observed how much his pale countenance brightened at the
interest with which a stranger listened to his anecdotes of Henri
Arnaud. Mr. Maude indulged himself by giving a small sum, which was
sufficient to pay the tax. And having thus enabled the little Janetta to
keep her valued Bible, he returned, I am sure, with a happy mind, to
finish his sketch of the picturesque _Arch_.”

Mary readily guessed that word, and my aunt therefore whispered one to
her. After considering for a moment, she proceeded--“The Alpine Marmot,
you know, is one of those animals that pass a portion of the year in a
torpid state. It delights in cold mountainous regions, where it burrows
in the ground, and prepares its wintry residence with great art, lining
it with the finest grass. To collect this grass, the whole family, it is
said, act in concert; some are employed as sentinels, to give notice of
approaching danger; others cut it; and when a sufficient quantity is
gathered, one of them acts the part of a waggon, to carry it home. This
marmot lays himself on his back, stretches his legs upward, and suffers
himself to be loaded just like a waggon of hay. One set then take hold
of him by the tail, and drag him along on his back; while another set
act as guides, to prevent accidents, or to remove any roughness in the
path, which might overturn their little living waggon.”

My uncle having rightly guessed the waggon, he was next called before
the house; Mary first giving him his text word.

“I would readily gratify with a tale all the friends collected here to
be amused; but alas! not having been gifted with invention, by the fairy
presiding at my birth, I can offer you nothing but an historical fact: I
can vouch, however, for its fidelity, as I had it from the lips of the
person to whom it occurred.

“When Sir Charles W. was ambassador at the court of St. Petersburg, he
found that the intrigues of a party in the Russian cabinet were all
directed against our interests; and, with his usual promptness, he wrote
despatches to communicate the circumstance to his own government. These
despatches were treacherously obtained by the Russians; but as they were
found to be in a secret cipher, they were incomprehensible. By the most
culpable want of fidelity, however, in some of Sir Charles’s household,
it was discovered that the _key_ to this cipher was pasted on a screen,
which he kept carefully locked up in a closet, within his own bed-room;
yet in spite of this precaution, some artful person contrived to get in
there, and was thus enabled to decipher his dispatches.

“The following night, he was awakened by his friend General Rostopchin,
who, with the courage and fidelity of real friendship, risked every
thing to warn him of his danger.

“‘Fly my, friend,’ he exclaimed, ‘your despatches have been read--the
council is now sitting, and it is resolved that you shall be seized and
sent to Siberia. Every moment’s delay increases your danger. I have
prepared every thing for your escape; the British fleet is off
Cronstadt, and now only can you get on board.’

“The friendship of this generous Russian had even triumphed over the
fidelity which he owed his own sovereign. But Sir Charles, though full
of gratitude, refused to take his advice.

“‘I am here,’ said he, ‘as the representative of the British King; and
never can I so forget his Majesty’s dignity, as to fly from danger. They
may send me to Siberia, at their peril; but I never will voluntarily
quit my post. I will immediately appear at the council, and assume my
place as the ambassador of England.’

“With the utmost expedition he arose, and prepared to appear at the
Russian council; but with a presence of mind, like Lord Nelson’s, when
he waited to seal his letter with wax, that it might not appear written
with precipitation, Sir Charles dressed himself with the utmost
precision, in full court dress, to shew that he felt perfectly at ease.
When he entered the council chamber, all his enemies seemed to
shrink--no one ventured to intercept him as he advanced to the Empress.
She received him graciously, and, extending her hand to him, looked
contemptuously at those around her, saying, ‘I wish I might possess such
a minister as this British ambassador; on him, indeed, his master can
justly rely for courage and fidelity.’”

Wentworth guessed the particular word in this interesting anecdote; and
a new one having been whispered to him, he begged leave to tell us a
traveller’s story:--

“Mr. Scouler, in his voyage up the Columbian river, came to a curious
rocky hill, called Mount Coffin by Captain Vancouver. These rocks
appeared to be the burial place for the natives of an extensive
district; who from dread, as well as respect, the Indians are in the
habit of depositing at a considerable distance from their dwellings. The
bodies were placed on the rocks in canoes, which served as coffins, and
which were covered by boards and secured by great stones. Into these
canoes, or more properly speaking coffins, their disinterested
relations, unlike hungry heirs in more civilized countries, had crammed
all the valuable property of the deceased. Mr. Scouler mentions as a
remarkable circumstance, that a large serpent, which you know is the
emblem of immortality, issued from one of the coffins as if to warn off
all intruders from that sacred spot. Perhaps,” continued Wentworth,
“the Indians have some confused idea of the river Styx, and think their
deceased friends will be the more readily ferried over to paradise from
being placed in a canoe instead of a coffin.”

Mr. Lumley was very much pleased with the manner in which Wentworth had
performed his part, and having of course guessed the coffin, he was next
brought forward.

“My mother,” he said, “had a dream soon after I was born, which she
afterwards told me, and which still remains fresh in my memory. She
imagined that an angel appeared and told her that her new born son might
possess all the qualities of both heart and understanding for which she
had so ardently prayed; ‘but,’ added he, ‘you have omitted in your
petitions to ask for one power of the mind, without which all
acquirements lose their value, and even the best feelings of the heart
will be rendered useless. Now is the time to repair your error--ask
quickly for that essential blessing for your boy, and you shall have

“My mother’s heart beat high; her thoughts became so much confused that
it was some time before she could command them sufficiently to decide
upon what this nameless treasure could be. She fancied she heard the
quivering of the angel’s wings, as he rose into the air to depart; and,
in an agony of despair lest she should lose for ever this precious gift,
she struggled to utter the wish which now was uppermost, but in her
effort to speak, she awoke.

“Now tell me, my friends, what was the wish that trembled on her lips,
and you will have my word.”

I guessed it, and told some dull story which is not worth repeating; the
rest of the company told theirs; but as I have not time for all, I will
go on at once to Caroline, who, with a pretty little blush, thus

“Three young children were coming down the Mississippi with their father
in a sort of a boat which they call there a pirogue. They landed on a
desert island in that wide river, in a bitter snowy evening in the month
of December; their father left them on the island, promising to return
after he had procured some brandy at a house on the opposite bank. He
pushed off in his little boat to cross the river, but the wind was high,
and the water rough.--The children watched him with tears in their eyes,
struggling in his pirogue against the stream, till about half way
across, when they saw the boat sink--and never more saw their father.
Poor children! they were left alone, exposed to the storm, without fire,
shelter, or even food, except a little corn.

“As the night came on, the snow fell faster, and the eldest, who was a
girl of only six years old, but very sensible and steady for her age,
made her little sister and her infant brother creep together close to
her, and she drew their bare feet under her clothes. She had collected a
few withered leaves and branches to cover them, and in this manner they
passed the long winter’s night. Next morning she tried to support her
poor weeping companions by giving them corn to chew, and sometimes she
made them run about with her to keep themselves warm.

“In this melancholy state you may imagine what was her joy, when, in the
course of the day, she discovered a vessel--no--a boat approaching the
island. It happily contained some good-natured Indians, who took
compassion on the children, shared their food with them, and safely
conveyed them to New Madrid in their own boat.”

The mistake that poor Caroline made in saying vessel for boat, and then
correcting herself with a little confusion, betrayed her; so that the
moment she ended her story, every one exclaimed “Boat,” “Boat.”

_19th._--In the morning we had a shower of hail, and since seven o’clock
it has been snowing constantly the whole day. I am delighted with its
pure, beautiful, feathery appearance; besides, it has brought back to
my mind little shadows of things that happened before we left England.
The ground all white, and the large blazing fire, remind me of the time
when we were at Montague Hall, when my grandfather used to employ me to
gather the crumbs at breakfast, to put out of the windows for the poor
little starving birds. I believe it was that circumstance that gave me
such a love of birds; for I am sure I can recollect the happiness I used
to feel when feeding them along with good grandpapa, and watching all
their little motions.

My uncle was amused with my exclamations of delight at the snow, and he
was good enough to shew me that each flake has a star-like appearance,
consisting of five or six rays that diverge from the centre; and that
from each of these rays little _spicula_ shoot out, which by crossing
each other form a beautiful net-work. He says that when clouds are
formed at such a height in the air as that the temperature there is
below 32°, the particles of moisture become congealed or frozen. If the
particles are small, or if they are slowly frozen, they become snow,
which gradually descends to the earth; but it often happens that the
atmosphere near the earth is so warm as to re-dissolve the snow while
falling, so that it comes down in the shape of rain. “This,” he added,
“cannot take place with hail, because it is so much more solid, and
falls so rapidly, that the warmth of the lower atmosphere has not time
to melt it, before it reaches the ground. In summer, therefore, snow may
be formed at a great elevation, as people who have ascended in balloons
have more than once witnessed, but it again becomes rain in its descent;
whereas, hail, for the reason I have given you, has been known to come
down in the hottest months of the year.”

I reminded him that he had not told me why the moisture should sometimes
freeze into flakes of snow, and sometimes into the pretty little round
balls of hail.

“I waited,” he replied, “till you asked that question; for information
is always best remembered when the want of it is felt. If the particles
of moisture in the atmosphere are small, and if they are _slowly_
congealed, they form themselves into flakes of snow, as I have already
mentioned; but when the moist vapour rapidly collects into large drops
of rain, and when these are _suddenly_ frozen, they become hail.”

“So that in fact,” said I, “hailstones are nothing more than little
balls of ice.”

“They are ice, but not common transparent ice,” my uncle said, as he
opened the window and picked out a few hailstones from under the snow;
“you see that they have an opaque whiteness very different from the
appearance of ice. The upper regions of the air are not only always
colder, but also less _dense_ than those near the surface of the earth;
and the white porous nature of hail is owing to the _rarity_ of the
atmosphere where they were congealed. Professor Leslie has proved this
by the simple experiment of freezing small quantities of water in the
reservoir of an air pump from which the air had been considerably
exhausted. Hailstones, however, are not always globular like these; I
have seen a shower of irregular lumps of ice of a great size, some of
them weighing even three or four ounces, and producing dreadful
mischief, killing the lambs and destroying all the crops. Last summer
there was a partial hailstorm near London, which broke thirty thousand
panes of glass in the green-houses of one nursery-ground.”

I am sorry to add, mamma, that every body says it is going to thaw; and
there will be an end of all the amusement I have had to-day in looking
at the beautiful feathery flakes as they blew against the windows.

_20th._--After dinner this gloomy evening, we had another edition of our
story-play. Though very much amused by all I heard, I will only mention
two or three little circumstances which may perhaps be interesting to
you or Marianne.

The word telescope was whispered to my aunt; and in the course of her
story she contrived to introduced the tube through which Prince Ali, in
the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, saw his distant friends. She said,
she had very little doubt that this must have alluded to some optical
instrument, and even that the carpet by which Prince Houssain
transported himself through the air was of the nature of a balloon. Both
these inventions are generally ascribed to the moderns, but she thinks
they must have been formerly known in the East, where, indeed, all
knowledge seems to have begun.

Mr. Lumley was so good as to join our circle; and having been given the
word elephant, he mentioned a laughable anecdote of a man who took hold
of an elephant’s tail lately in the streets of London. The animal was so
displeased by this indignity, that he turned suddenly round, and
grasping the man with his trunk, placed him against the iron rails where
he kept him prisoner for some time. The keeper at last prevailed on the
elephant to let the offender go, but not till after he had received some
hard squeezes, for which he complained to a magistrate, who of course
gave him no redress, as he was the first aggressor.

Mr. L. also told us that a friend of his in India, when riding on an
elephant through a rice field, observed that the sagacious creature
plucked a considerable quantity of the ears and carried them behind his
trunk till the party stopped, when he ate them at leisure.

_21st._--The expected thaw arrived--yesterday was odious, half snow,
half rain, and everything dirty and dreary. My uncle and Frederick went
this afternoon to the poor man’s garden, where you know we saw the
carrots raised up by the little icy pillars; but this thaw has made the
roads so wet, that I could not possibly go with them.

Frederick tells me that all the fairy colonnades which supported the
earth about the carrots are now melted, the earth has fallen down, and
the tops of the roots are to be seen, quite bare, but above the ground,
and appearing as if they had been half pulled up by hand.

I asked my uncle if frost pushes up any other kind of root in that
way,--and he said that these columns have a quite different effect on
fibrous roots, particularly the grasses. In consequence of the strong
matting together of their roots, a whole piece of sward between two
cracks is sometimes lifted up by these pillars, so as to separate it
from the earth underneath. When the columns dissolve, the sward sinks
into its former place, and the earth, which has been loosened and
minutely divided by the frozen columns, affords a fine bed for the roots
to strike into, so that it is rather an advantage than an injury to them
to have been thus loosened. After the frost is melted, he says, he has
seen patches of the sward lifted up with nearly as much ease as if they
had been separated by a parting-spade.

Frederick asked what effect frost had upon soils which are not spongy.

My uncle told us that in clay soils the water forms small detached
crystals, so thickly interspersed through the whole mass, that when a
clod is broken, the fractured part looks as if covered by hoar frost;
but they are too small for the naked eye to distinguish their shape.
They help, however, to divide and loosen the clay in those stiff lumps;
and after a frost the blow of a spade will almost reduce them into
powder. Farmers sometimes, in expectation of this effect of frost, sow
their wheat in very rough ground in autumn, in order that the clods,
being pulverised by it, may close round the roots of the young plants;
and these benefit by it as drilled corn does by _landing_--that is,
having the earth laid up by the plough against the little seedlings when
they have grown to some height. In mild winters farmers are disappointed
in this; but my uncle says it is but a lazy mode of farming, and
deserves to be disappointed.

Do you know, mamma, that I think it is colder and more uncomfortable
than during the frost. The birds, however, seem to be rejoiced: I hear
them chirping their satisfaction--and all the robins that we had in the
house (we had seven at one time) have left their good shelter, and
flown off to their companions, by whom I hear they are not likely to be
welcomed: I suppose they are despised for not bearing the hardships of
the season as well as the others.

_22nd, Sunday._--My uncle read the Ten Commandments to us to-day, and
afterwards addressed us on the subject; and though I know that I cannot
do justice to all he said, I will try and note down a little of it.

“‘And God spake all these words.’ The Hebrews emphatically called these
commandments the ‘Ten words;’ and the same term having been adopted in
Greek, they have obtained the name of _Decalogue_ in every modern
language. Though all mankind were bound to obey the precepts contained
in these important laws, yet, as they were more especially addressed to
the Israelites, the tables on which they were engraven were preserved in
the ark with great solemnity, and were distinguished from the rest of
God’s ordinances by a peculiar veneration, as containing the covenant of
the Lord. The Mosaic dispensation is at an end, but these commandments
continue in full force; for we find that our Saviour and his apostles
quoted them as matter of perpetual obligation to Christians; who are
now, as the Jews were formerly, ‘the Israel of God.’

“In order to understand their full extent, it is necessary, my dear
children, that you should _study_ them attentively: for though they are
contained in a few brief precepts, they really comprehend a complete
code of morality. You must consider that there is much more implied than
is expressly ordained; and that each commandment is to be understood as
a concise text, reminding mankind of the whole sum of their duty on that
particular head. For instance, when any one sin is forbidden, it is
evident that every offence of the same nature, though of a lower degree,
is also forbidden; and that as we well know how easily we are seduced
step by step, so we are bound to abstain from every indulgence which may
act as a temptation to violate the principle of that law. We are not to
be contented with a cold and literal obedience to this divine code.
Whatever virtues are enjoined to us, it is equally our duty to induce
others to practise them; whatever is prohibited, becomes a double crime
in us if we tempt others to commit it; and observe, that for this
enlarged sense in which we are to view these commandments, we have the
direct authority of our Saviour.

“The introduction to the commandments states the grounds on which God
required the obedience and adoration of the Jews; 1st, that he was the
Lord their God; and 2dly, that he had triumphantly delivered them from
Egyptian bondage. And let it be ever impressed on your minds that these
reasons apply to us Christians, no less than they did to the Jews; for
He is the Lord _our_ God by a more excellent covenant than he was
theirs. He has relieved us from that slavery, of which the Egyptian
bondage was but a type; and instead of the land of Canaan, he has
prepared for us an inheritance in heaven.

“The first and second commandments, in which we are forbidden, under a
dreadful penalty, to swerve from the worship of the one true God, or to
kneel to any created being, seem to have been framed in allusion to the
gross idolatry of Egypt, where all manner of living creatures were
adored; and this allusion must have strongly reminded the Israelites of
the want of power in those mock deities, who could neither prevent the
plagues which they had just witnessed, nor could they enable Pharaoh,
though backed by a mighty army, to detain them in that country.”

My uncle then went through all the other commandments, and said a great
deal to us about the divine institution of the Sabbath; but when he came
to the tenth, “This,” said he, “stamps the seal of divinity upon the
whole Mosaic code, of which the Decalogue is the summary. No such
restrictions are to be found in the laws of the most famous heathen
legislators; neither Lycurgus, nor Solon, nor Justinian, interfere with
the desires of the heart; they knew that human thoughts are not
cognizable by human tribunals; but it was a command which naturally came
from Him who both can and will ‘bring every work into judgment, with
every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.’ How
finely,” continued my uncle, “has our Saviour commented on this
commandment, in his Sermon on the Mount! It is not the mere outward
observance of the law that he inculcates, but the inward principle of
obedience; it is the word of the law written in our hearts.”

_23rd._--The circumstance that Caroline told us lately, of the children
on the desert island, in the Mississippi, naturally led to some
conversation about that prodigious river, and the countries through
which it flows.

We looked at its course to-day, in my uncle’s large maps of North
America. He shewed us an account of it in Morse’s Geography, and he made
us observe, that taking in all its windings, it is upwards of a thousand
leagues in length; that it passes over twenty degrees of latitude; and,
after joining with the Missouri, and receiving a multitude of smaller
streams, though many of them are navigable for hundreds of miles, it
pours its united waters into the Gulf of Mexico.

It is evident, he says, that the country through which it runs, was
formerly inhabited by a more intelligent race than the natives now
appear to be; for large mounds of earth are frequently met with near the
banks of the river, within which are found the remains of pottery and
other articles of a superior kind to those now in use amongst the
Indians, who are in a very low state of civilization, and but thinly
spread over that immense valley.

The Mississippi rises, as he shewed us, in a region of lakes and swamps,
which are scattered over a table-land extending from that great ridge
called the Rocky Mountains, nearly to Lake Superior, between the 48th
and 49th parallel of latitude. In the first division of its course, it
passes slowly and smoothly through _savannahs_, or low plains, covered
with wild rice, rushes, and other aquatic plants, the rank growth of
which is so great, that travellers say, that as they sat in their
canoes, the adjoining forests were completely hid from their view by the
lofty fields of waving grass.

In the second division, begins the granite country, with forests of elm,
oak, and other lofty trees. Then come the dry _prairies_, which are the
great resort of the buffalo and deer; and in which sycamore and black
walnut begin to appear.

In the third division, which extends above 800 miles, the river
increases vastly in breadth; flows through lime-stone rocks, and
receives several tributary rivers, by some of which, boats may
communicate, with short interruptions, between the Gulfs of St. Lawrence
and Mexico.

Lastly begins the extensive tract of land, known by the name of the
_Great Swamp_, or, as it is sometimes called, the Dismal
Swamp.--Scarcely a tree or bush is to be seen for 300 miles, except the
deciduous cypress, which gives a peculiar and gloomy aspect to this
unhealthy region; and, to add to its horrors, it is subject to frequent
earthquakes. Lower down, the banks of the river consist of clay, sand,
and gravel; almost every flood undermines some parts of them, which fall
in, and carry away whole fields and plantations into the stream.--From a
place called Baton Rouge, which is about 140 miles above New Orleans, to
the sea, they are scarcely elevated above the level of the river, and
would be overflowed during the floods, but for artificial embankments,
called _levées_, by which the long narrow line of plantations is
defended. All beyond these embankments, is one vast level, swampy
surface, covered with reeds and rushes, and totally destitute of trees.
The inundations are said to have sometimes risen to the height of fifty
or sixty feet.

The breaking down of a levée, with the tremendous rush of such a body of
water, brings certain destruction on the neighbouring plantations. At
those times, the whole surface beyond the sloping banks appears, for
thousands of square miles, as one vast ocean; and only four or five
years since, upwards of three hundred plantations were overwhelmed with
water, and their crops totally destroyed. Very strict regulations have,
therefore, been established for the prevention of this misfortune.

In these dreary plains a pretty little species of marmot is found; it is
called the “Prairie-dog,” from a supposed resemblance of its cry to the
hurried barking of a dog. The habits of this animal are so social, that
they live together in burrows which are called “_Prairie-dog villages_,”
and which sometimes spread to the extent of many miles; the entrance of
each burrow is through a small mound of earth, of a foot or eighteen
inches high, on the summit of which the little animals sit and bark, and
flourish their tails; but they plunge in, on the least appearance of
danger. In winter, they become torpid, having first securely closed up
the entrance of their burrows, and made a nest of fine dry grass with a
small opening just large enough to admit a finger, and so compact, that
it might be rolled along the floor without injury. The burrowing owl is
said to inhabit these plains also, dwelling in burrows of the same
description as those of the prairie-dog.

_24th._--This day, our good friend, Mrs. P. left us--I am very sorry to
lose her; and, so indeed, is every person in the house.

She had promised, you know, to tell me her history, but circumstances
induced her to put it on paper, and I shall lose no time in transcribing
it for your amusement, my dear mamma.

She was anxious to return to her father and mother, as her boys spent
this vacation with Mr. Crispin, a very old friend.

To-morrow, as soon as the Lumleys go away, I shall begin to copy her

_26th._--My indulgent uncle had requested the gardener, or any one who
happened to find a dormouse, to bring it to him; and Franklin, in
stubbing up an old hollow root of a tree, luckily found one of those
little fat creatures fast asleep. It is more plump, but very like a
common mouse; the nose is blunter, and its tail is not so pointed; it is
of a dun red all over, except the throat, which is white. It lay in a
most comfortable little nest of woven grass, which has not been
disturbed; and beside it there was a small collection of nuts and

My aunt has lent me a cage, and we shall see whether the warmth of the
house can overcome its habit of sleeping during the rest of the winter;
but I shall not for some days put it into a warm room; it shall be
treated as if it had been frozen, and revived very gradually.

The same person, my uncle says, who tried the experiment on crickets,
which I mentioned to you a fortnight ago, shut up some garden snails in
a wafer-box, where he secluded them from food and water; but not from
air, for he made several small holes in the box. He also put a few
snails into a bottle from which all air was excluded; they, of course,
died; but those in the perforated boxes retired into their shells, the
aperture of which they closed with a thin membrane; and there they
remained apparently dead, as long as they were kept dry. On being
dropped into water of the temperature of 70°, they were found quite
alive in four hours, and sticking to the plate which covered the vessel.
One large snail was imprisoned for three years, and yet it revived on
being put into water.

I was told a most singular instance of the length of time for which life
may be suspended in those animals. Some snail-shells had for many years
formed part of a little museum; one night the window of the room was
left open; heavy rain beat into the case which had not been shut; and
the next day, what had been considered only specimens of shells, were
found crawling about the walls.

This faculty, however, is not peculiar to snails; for M. Socoloff, a
Russian, found that some flies and small beetles, which had been long
immersed in spirit of wine, had returned to life on being thrown into
warm wood ashes. He was astonished at seeing the flies start up, and,
after wiping the dust from their wings, fly away as if nothing had

_29th, Sunday._--My uncle told us this morning, that the book of
Leviticus was so called, because it describes the sacrifices and
services of the tabernacle, which were to be performed by the tribe of
Levi. He then read to us some of the chapters, and he answered in the
kindest manner the questions which we all put to him, about the
different offerings, and the regulations to be observed by the priests.

As he closed the book, he said, “The object of these observances has
passed away with the Mosaic dispensation, and it is now only necessary
to understand their general tendency. Sacrifices and offerings had been
established in the infancy of mankind, and, though perverted by folly
and idolatry, they continued to form a part of every worship in every
country. It was the universal belief that sins could only be expiated
by corresponding sacrifices of what was most valued; and gratitude for
worldly blessings and riches seemed to demand some proportionate

“Sacrifices, offerings, and ceremonies were a kind of _representative_,
or figurative worship. Compared with the present state of the world, the
people of those days had few abstract ideas; even their arts, and
sciences, and particularly their religious systems, were in a great
degree described by allegories, types, and hieroglyphics; and though we
can with difficulty see the connexion now, it is probable that every
outward rite that was then enjoined to the Israelites, was really
typical of some inward principle of virtue, or of some distinct point of
faith. Taken altogether, it is certain that their object was to
discipline that stubborn people into obedience--to preserve them from
the surrounding idolatries--to keep them separate from all other
nations, as depositaries of the revealed truth--to train them for the
reception of a new dispensation--and, above all, they were designed to
prefigure the great and final atoning sacrifice of the Messiah.”

_30th._--The weather has been so soft and mild for the last week, that
it seems as if we had only dreamt of frost and snow. After the thaw, the
ground, and even the walks, were so wet, that we could not go out of
doors with any comfort, and as I had a little cold, I stayed in the
house for a few days; so I was the more surprised at seeing what a
change has taken place. The wheat-fields look greener than ever; the
buds of the lilac and sycamore are swelling, and the woodbine leaves are
actually bursting open. The flower-buds on the mezereon, which Mary
showed me last September, are now opening; and a few scattered flowers,
which are quite blown out, shew us their pretty pink faces, and promise
a delightful smell. But, more than all, the snow-drops have already
appeared, and in the sheltered spots there are many bunches of them
quite opened. It is the most innocent, modest looking little flower; and
with its pure and delicate white, forms a charming contrast to the dirty
appearance of the walks.

      The snow-drop blooms
    Ere winter’s storms are past,
      As she shrinks below
      Her mantle of snow
    And trembling shuns the blast.

_Feb. 1st._--Dreary as this season is, I find it better than I had
expected; but, indeed, there is so much pursuit and rational occupation
in this house, that it is impossible to feel any day gloomy.

We have now a return of frost, and besides those birds which venture
into the house, there are several others which crowd round it in flocks
to seek for food. Sparrows, chaffinches, and yellow-hammers are to be
seen every day at the barn-doors, pecking what they can find; and Mary
has shewn me the larks, sheltering themselves in the stubble; and the
thrushes, blackbirds, and even fieldfares, nestling together under the
hedges, as if endeavouring to console each other.

While the ground was covered with snow, I saw the black-headed titmouse
come every day to a thatched shed in the yard, and with its back
downwards, draw out the straws lengthways from the eaves of the shed, in
order to seize the flies concealed between them; and I assure you, such
numbers came to one spot, that they quite spoiled the appearance of the
thatch, Mary says they are very useful in searching for the _larvæ_ of
the _tortrix_, those ingenious caterpillars, that disfigure the leaves
of fruit-trees by rolling them up for their houses. Gardeners, she says,
are very ungrateful to these birds; for, supposing that they attack the
blossoms, they are destroyed without mercy. They are, however, eaters of
bees, so that they must be considered somewhat mischievous.

They are easily tamed and taught little tricks, such as drawing up a
bucket. Mary placed some almonds yesterday on a sheltered bank; in a
short time one of these little black-heads came, and grasping the
largest of them in his claw, broke the shell by repeatedly striking it
with his sharp bill, and then dexterously drew out the kernel.

My uncle walked with us to-day to Farmer Moreland’s, that we might see
what out-of-door work was going on in this frosty weather. Besides
drawing manure into the fields, while the ground is hard, we found his
men busy in mending the hedges and fences; and now that the roads are
pretty smooth, he will employ his team in carrying hay and corn to
market. Afterwards, if the frost should continue, he says he will draw
coals, which will be no great trouble--there are so many coal-pits in
the forest. We heard the cheerful sound of the _flails_ as we passed his
barn;--he was threshing out all his barley to sell for making malt. As
we walked home my uncle told me the process of malting.

“Beer is, you know,” said he, “a fermented liquor, made generally from
barley after it has been converted into malt; as in its natural state it
would produce but an imperfect fermentation.

“The grain is first steeped for two or three days in water, that it may
soak and swell to a certain degree. The water being then drained off, it
is laid on the floor in a heap of about two feet high, when, with the
warmth of the house and the imbibed moisture, it begins to _germinate_,
and to shoot out its radicle; which is checked by spreading it out
thinner, and frequently turning it over with wooden shovels to cool it.
These operations require several days, and it is then thrown into the
malt-kiln and slightly baked. The time it is kept there, and the heat to
which the kiln is raised, depend on the kind of beer to be brewed, and
the required colour for the malt; it is however enough for you to know,
that from eight to twelve hours is sufficient; and that from 130° to
160° of the thermometer gives all the varieties of colour from pale ale
to the brownest porter. By this process the grain undergoes a material
change; it acquires a saccharine or sweet quality which it did not
possess before, and which is destroyed if either the germination or the
kiln-drying are carried too far. It also loses a large proportion of the
mucilage that it contained; which is the reason why the flour of wheat
that has been sowed in wet weather is generally bad; the grain partially
heats in the stacks, a tendency to germinate takes place, and there is,
therefore, a deficiency of that nutritious part, the mucilage. In this
case the flour is said to be _malty_.

“This accounts for the bad paste which your aunt had some days ago; it
was made of malty flour, and you know it had not the adhesive quality of
good paste.”

_3rd._--How pleasant it is to find some chance circumstance relative to
any subject about which we have been interested. Here is something that
I found in Scoresby’s Journal; and it seems quite to agree with my
uncle’s opinion.

“This night stars were seen for the first time during fifteen weeks, the
sky being beautifully clear. The sea, as usual on such occasions began
to freeze as soon as the sun descended within four or five degrees of
the horizon, though the temperature of the air was considerably above
the freezing point. Whether the heat of the water be radiated into the
atmosphere, according to the theory of Dr. Wells, or whether a cold
influence of the atmosphere be conveyed to the water, may be a doubtful
question; but the fact, that the water more rapidly loses its heat when
exposed to the full aspect of a cloudless sky, is certain. In cloudy
weather no freezing of the sea ever occurs, I believe, till the
temperature of the air is below 29°: but in the instance now alluded to,
the freezing commenced when the temperature was 36°, being about 8°
above the freezing point of sea water.”

_5th, Sunday._--My uncle said to-day that, before we quitted the subject
of the Jewish sacrifices, he had a few more observations to make, to
which he requested our attention.

“In a worldly point of view,” he said, “the punctual performance of all
those rites, and a strict obedience to the ceremonial law, were the
terms on which the Israelites were to inherit the land of Canaan; and in
a spiritual sense they were to be considered as the means of sharing the
benefit of that great sacrifice of Christ which was to lead to the
inheritance of the heavenly Canaan. The institution of animal sacrifice
had continued until the giving of the law, no offering but that of an
animal being mentioned in scripture up to this period, except that of
Cain, which was rejected. But when the law was ordained, we find that
the connexion between animal sacrifice and atonement was clearly and
distinctly announced; and that certain prescribed offerings were to be
accepted as the means of deliverance from the penal consequences of sin.

“He who presented a sin-offering was commanded to lay his hands upon the
head of the animal, as a confession of his own guilt, and as an
acknowledgment that the punishment he deserved was, by the gracious
forbearance of God, transferred to the victim. On these terms the
offering was accepted, and a conditional pardon granted. The Hebrew word
for sin-offering includes the sense of cleansing, expiating, and making
satisfaction; and therefore every sin-offering, 1st, implied contrition
and repentance; 2dly, an humble hope of averting a just chastisement by
this figurative retribution;--and 3rdly, a firm belief in the efficacy
of the great final atonement. The Jews well knew,” added my uncle, “that
none of these sacrifices had in themselves sufficient value to clear the
criminal, or to procure his pardon; they knew that they were only
instituted as a public avowal of his crime, and as a type of the perfect
expiation to be afterwards made by Christ for the sins of mankind.

“It was indeed the object of all the sacrifices of the Mosaic ritual, to
impress the people with the necessity of expiation, even for involuntary
offences; and to fix in their minds that awful maxim, as St. Paul
expresses it, that ‘without shedding of blood there is no remission.’
This lesson was inculcated in the earliest sacrifice upon record--when
respect was had to Abel’s sacrifice of the firstlings of his flock,
rather than to the husbandman’s offering of the fruit of his ground; and
afterwards in the covenant with Noah, as well as in various parts of the
Mosaic law, where blood was in the most absolute way prohibited to be
eaten, as being a holy thing consecrated to the purpose of general
expiation. This expiatory virtue, however, the apostles emphatically
say, belonged not to the blood of bulls and of goats, but to the blood
of Christ, of which the other was only a temporary emblem.”

My uncle then read to us the several parts of Scripture to which he had
alluded; and he added, that though we are now ignorant of the particular
object of the ceremonies and minute directions for the sacrifices and
offerings, we may perceive that solemnity and reverence were strongly
enforced in all, with an exactness of obedience to lesser regulations,
which shews that neither must we neglect the smaller duties while we
obey the ‘weightier matters of the law.’

_6th._--A number of curious circumstances were mentioned at breakfast in
a conversation on the force of habit, not only in animals, but in
vegetables; and my uncle thinks it is a subject on which further inquiry
would not be more interesting to the philosopher than useful to the
farmer and gardener. I have only time to write a very little of what he

He told us that there are several plants, which have been naturalised in
cold climates by bringing them there step by step. Rice he gave as one
instance: it is a native of the East Indies, within the torrid zone, but
was early cultivated in South Carolina, the Canaries, and the northern
parts of Africa; and about a hundred years ago it was sown in Italy. It
has ever since been creeping towards the north of Europe, and there are
now very large plantations of rice on the banks of the Weser. It is,
however, necessary in Germany to use the seed which has been ripened
there; that of Carolina will not thrive at all, and Italian seed but
indifferently, being destitute of that power of withstanding cold, which
the German rice has acquired by habit.

Another example of the gradual effect of habit on plants my uncle
learned from the late Dr. Walker. The Brazilian passion-tree is, you
know, an evergreen in its native country; but when the Doctor was a boy
in 1773, some plants of it near Edinburgh annually lost their leaves.
During his life, however, they became gradually enured to the climate;
and he says that in his latter years, in sheltered situations, they have
retained their foliage through the whole winter.

I asked my uncle whether those plants, which have come from a warmer
region, and are naturalised here, flower later in this climate than in
their own.

“The times of the appearance of vegetables in the spring seem,” said he,
“to be influenced by early acquired habits, as well as by sensibility to
heat. That same Dr. Walker, whom I mentioned a few minutes ago, had some
very singular ideas on this subject: his opinion was, that plants
removed from one climate to another, generally observe their original
season of flowering, unless prevented by some powerful cause. The
climate of Spain and Portugal in December and January suits the
flowering of the laurestinus; and you have seen that the cold of
Gloucestershire in those months was not sufficient to deter it from
following its old habits. In the northern parts of Scotland, however, it
does not flower till April. Dr. Walker thought the flowering of any
shrub in winter in this climate was an indubitable proof of its not
being a native; and he therefore supposes the arbutus to have been a
native of Iceland: in the fact, I believe, he is right; but, when the
similarity of the climates is considered, it is rather a whimsical proof
of his doctrine.

“He gives, however, several instances of plants brought from the
southern hemisphere, which flower there at the time that the sun is in
the tropic of Capricorn, and which adhere in this country to their old
December rule, without obeying the influence of the sun when in Cancer.”

I afterwards met my uncle in the garden, where he showed me an immense
quantity of buds on the peach trees, and took great pains in teaching me
the difference between the flower buds and leaf buds--the former short,
thick, broad and full, with a downy covering;--the leaf buds much less
downy, longer, and not so thick. In a few weeks, he says, I am to see
these trees in full flower, notwithstanding this wintery weather.

_7th._--From all I had heard Colonel Travers say about rice, I imagined
that its cultivation was almost confined to India; and I had no idea
till yesterday that it grew in North America, and even in Germany. I
renewed therefore the conversation to-day, and I now find that it is so
much cultivated in Spain, particularly in the low parts of the province
of Valencia, that a very large quantity is exported every year.

The ground is prepared for it there by first sowing beans; and when they
come into blossom, which is about March, they are ploughed in for
manure, and flooded with water to the depth of four inches. After a
third ploughing the rice is sown; and when it comes up, it is
transplanted to another prepared field, and again covered with water.
Each stem produces about twenty-four fold. When ripe it is gathered in
sheaves, and put into a mill, the lower grinding-stone of which is
covered with cork, by which means the chaff is separated without
bruising the grain.

My aunt tells me that rice grows wild in the swamps of Upper Canada; and
that the shallow parts of Rice Lake, which is near the residence of Mrs.
* * *, is full of it. Her letters describe it as having the appearance
of reeds with long narrow leaves, and bearing clusters of flowers at the
top of the stem.

It is curious that the plant chiefly cultivated in the Sandwich Islands
for food is managed very like rice;--the _taro_, to grow in perfection,
requiring irrigation. The fields are divided for that purpose, like the
rice grounds of the East, into small squares which may be easily
flooded, and the roots are planted in rows. The root of the taro when
roasted resembles the yam; but it is usually pounded into a paste, and
then mixed with water, so as to become of the consistence of porridge.

The Sandwich Islands are nearer to you than to England, and yet perhaps
you do not know, dear mamma, that although the bread-fruit is the most
important of all their vegetables, they have another very useful one,
called _Tee_ by the natives. The root is sweet, and produces a pleasant
liquor, but a little intoxicating. The leaves woven together form a
light cloak for the inhabitants of the mountains;--something like those
formed of the palm leaves by the poorer natives of Hindostan, to shelter
them while at work in the open fields. Fences are often formed by
planting the tee roots close together; but what makes the plant
particularly remarkable is, that a stalk of it is with them the symbol
of peace, as a branch of olive is with us.

Of the bark of the paper mulberry that ingenious people manufacture very
nice cloth; they make beautiful mats from the leaves of their palm
trees; and you know what pretty cloaks and caps of feathers have been
brought home from all those islands. They even stamp their cloth with
patterns; and their weapons and bowls are highly carved. “This shews,”
my aunt says, “that whenever people arrive at a certain point of
civilization, that is, as soon as their food and other necessaries of
life are surely and regularly supplied, the ornamental arts as surely

She afterwards added, that she thought it would be a very nice winter
amusement for us to describe to each other the arts and luxuries as well
as the principal natural productions of the different parts of the

My uncle approved of this idea, and we are to try it sometimes as we sit
after dinner round the fire. I fear I am quite too ignorant to attempt
to bear a part; but I am sure I shall be delighted to listen.

_8th._--The sun rose this morning so brilliantly, and the distant hills
looked so remarkably blue and clear, that I was sure we should have a
fine day and a long walk; but my uncle told me that, at this season,
both of those appearances indicate rain; and he took me to the
barometer, and shewed me, by his meteorological journal, that the
mercury had been _gradually_ falling ever since Monday night, and that
it was very hollow on its upper surface. From all this he thinks there
will be some days of continued bad weather. Accordingly, before
breakfast was well over, the clouds began to collect about the mountain
tops, and it is now raining. I have already made some progress in
transcribing Mrs. P.’s memoir for my dear mamma; and if his prediction
be correct, I shall have time to finish it before the return of dry


I am now going to fulfil my promise, Bertha, by giving you a sketch of
my life; and as I shall begin by a detail of those early circumstances
which have unceasingly influenced its happiness or misery, there will
seldom be occasion to interrupt my narrative in order to point out their
consequences. You will have no difficulty in perceiving how inevitably
my errors led to their punishment; how certainly the heart is corrupted
by selfish indulgence; and how pursuits that in themselves are laudable
may become pernicious, if not controlled by a sense of duty.

I was unfortunately what is called a very promising child, quick in all
my perceptions, and equally capable of retaining the knowledge I so
readily acquired. My parents, delighted at my progress, were proud of
their child; and by friends and visiters I was considered a prodigy.
This injudicious praise had so powerful an effect, that when I was about
twelve years old I determined to lay aside the common amusements of
children, and to become a singular and distinguished character. My
ambition was the more easily fostered, as in our retired situation we
had but few neighbours; and, therefore, an occasional interview with
their children, or a chance visit from my cousins, supplied me but
scantily with opportunities of giving way to the natural activity of
youth, or of having my pedantry successfully ridiculed by companions of
my own age.

The pleasure which I had formerly taken in learning whatever was
difficult, in order to astonish my mother, now became a real wish for
knowledge; and as my ardour increased every year, I studied many
subjects which are not in the usual course of female education. Though
my mother would by no means have approved of such pursuits for other
young ladies, yet so great was my influence, that I was not only
uncontrolled by her, but even assisted by my father as far as his own
powers permitted.

The attainments of either were very limited: they had amiable but narrow
views of life; they were devoted to each other, and to their children;
and to the poor around them, they were actively useful and benevolent.
But their income was moderate, and my mother was obliged to practise the
most indefatigable economy in order to ensure to her family those
comforts which she thought they were entitled to enjoy, as well as to
enable her to assist those whom she considered as dependent on her
bounty; and at the same time to save something every year as a provision
for her children. About all this I then knew or cared but little; I was
insensible to the merit of her steady perseverance in these duties, and
thought very lightly of the talents necessary for such management; or I
thought of them, only to regret that intellectual creatures could waste
so much of their existence upon such vulgar labours.

I have in latter years often wondered how my mother’s plain good sense
could be so blinded by partiality, that she never even tried to conquer
my absurd fancies, and, by forcing me into obedience, to teach me to be
useful; indeed, it is most painful to me now to think of her generous
but ill-judged forbearance.

While she was engaged in superintending her servants, or instructing my
young brothers, or occupied in needle-work for us all during whole days,
with scarcely the interruption of a walk, or the indulgence of a book, I
was pouring over my high-flown studies; perhaps, reading Horace with one
brother, or conquering mathematical difficulties with the other; or,
seated under an old ilex-tree in the lawn, writing verses. Sometimes, to
gratify my mother, I condescended to practise on the piano-forte; but
this was one of the secondary employments which I despised; a thing for
show; a silly waste of time; nothing that could benefit mankind by the
developement of the human understanding.

When I was eighteen, my philosophical enthusiasm became so great, that
every moment seemed lost which was not devoted to scientific pursuits.
To waste that time and those powers which were given me for the noblest
purposes, in the common nothings of life; to sit with my friends
listening to the trifling gossip of the country, or to home-spun
discussions, were sacrifices to which I would seldom submit, and I
always broke away from them with undissembled scorn.

Many a lonely hour that she has passed repairing the clothes of which I
disdained to take care, I might have cheered her by my company; or
enlivened my father’s evenings by a little simple music, in which he
delighted. But conceit and selfishness always accompany each other; and,
what is more to the point, always lay the foundation of their own
punishment; the very talents and pursuits which, under proper control,
ornament and raise the female character, became by their abuse my
incessant bane. I had the pride of human intellect; and prayed for
knowledge: alas! I never prayed for wisdom, nor for humility.

I will give you an instance of my odious selfishness, because it shews
how short the space is between right and wrong. I went one evening to
the drawing-room in search of my brother, but he was not there. My
father had a book open near him, though he was not reading; my mother
was working, and both looking sad and anxious; I was quickly retiring
out of the room, when my father, stretching out his hand, and drawing me
gently towards him said, “Gertrude, my love, stay with us. We have had
some unpleasant news to-day. Your poor mother and I are too low-spirited
to amuse each other; and we want you, my dear child, to cheer us a

“Yes, papa,” said I, “I will come as soon as I can,” and I hurried
away.--I shall never forget his look of disappointment.--Can you believe
it?--I was so callous to every good feeling that I coolly sat down to
finish some mathematical question in which I had been engaged, before I
condescended to return!--But you will ask--had I no principles, no sense
of duty or religion to guide me?--Yes, I had principles, but they were
always warped by some silly enthusiasm: I had religion, but it was that
sort of highly wrought sentiment which produces no good fruits: it was
very spiritual I thought, but it had little influence on my actions.

My mother was anxious to bring me more into the world; and I complained
myself sometimes of the want of amusement; but I professed to despise
company of all kinds: dancing was an absurd waste of life, and the stiff
country dinners were tiresome. Had my vanity, indeed, been more
gratified at the balls and parties to which I was taken, I should,
probably, have liked them amazingly; but the truth was, the ladies
thought me learned, and were afraid of me, and neither my appearance nor
my conversation pleased the other sex; I therefore discovered that such
occupations offered but little enjoyment to a cultivated mind.

When I arrived at the age of twenty-four, I was a strange compound of
selfishness and sentiment, of folly and learning. Of every species of
useful knowledge I was ignorant; to make or mend my clothes I considered
degrading; and all the details of domestic economy I treated with
contempt. My mother reasoned with me, but in vain; my father interfered,
but it was too late; my habits were formed. My parents could not always
conceal their feelings of disappointment, and I withdrew more than ever
to my own ideal world of poetry and science, and to studies which, I
cannot too often repeat, are praiseworthy only when kept in due
subordination. My father once said to me with tears in his eyes, “The
time will come, Gertrude, when you will feel your mistake,”--and it did
indeed come.

Mr. P., a college friend of my brother’s, came to visit him about this
time, and spent a week at our house. He was as enthusiastic as myself,
ardent in science, and perfect in classical literature; he was, in a
word, the most amiable and accomplished person I had ever known. Pleased
with my conversation, he paid us repeated visits, and without
sufficiently studying my character, he sought to win my hand. It was the
most foolish thing that Mr. P. ever did!

The attentions of such a man were irresistible; he really gained my
heart, and I soon consented; anticipating with delight, as I told my
mother, a life devoted to him and to science. My father, however,
entirely disapproved of the match, as Mr. P. had a very small fortune,
and as it was too obvious that I was unfit to be a poor man’s wife. I
exerted all my former influence to coax him into acquiescence; but the
most I could obtain was that, instead of an absolute refusal, he
insisted on our waiting for a year, that we might each have time to
understand the duties and difficulties of a married life.

I had been accustomed, not merely to indulgence, but almost to
deference. Gertrude’s opinion had always been consulted; her advice had
always prevailed; and was she now, and in a matter of such importance,
to be controlled like a child! “No, sir,” said I, “Mr. P. is _my_
choice, and I will not risk my happiness by submitting to any delay.”

My father persisted, though there was a painful struggle in his
affectionate mind; and my mother tried the effect of persuasion with me,
but my passionate temper would brook no restraint. At length one of my
brothers became alarmed and thought it right to intercede; he mildly
opened their eyes to the conviction that my determined character was
their own work, and that it was now too late to retrace their steps. He
pointed out to them the dislike I had excited in the neighbourhood by my
contemptuous and satirical conduct to everybody; and the ill effect that
the reaction of that feeling might have in still further hardening my
disposition; and he endeavoured to convince them that a husband’s
influence was the only chance left of withdrawing me from the follies
they lamented. He then urged the family, the education, and the manners
of Mr. P., who had every thing but wealth to recommend him; and
earnestly implored my father to relent.

He succeeded. Mr. P. was accepted, and settlements were now to be
discussed; but scorning all inquiry into the income of one whom I loved
only for his merit, I indignantly exclaimed:--

    Can gold calm passion, or make reason shine?
    Can we dig peace or wisdom from the mine?

We were married--and went home to a sweet little place which Mr. P. had
on the banks of Ulleswater.--The estate was small, but had been in his
family for ages; the house was a two-story building of olden times with
projecting windows; it was situated in a valley which was sheltered from
every cold blast, and altogether looked as if it must be a happy home.

“You are mistress of this humble place, Gertrude,” said Mr. P.; “and
over my purse you have unbounded power. Your wishes are moderate, and
you well know that our expenses must be limited by discretion. This
property has been sufficient for my father and my ancestors; I hope you
will assist me in preserving it free from debt and incumbrance for my
successors. Of few things I have a greater horror than the disgrace of
debt. Remember then, dearest Gertrude, that in our present situation
economy becomes an essential duty.”

I considered this speech as so very devoid of sentiment, that I did not
deign to reply.

In a few weeks, my mother came to visit us; in her own kind manner, she
assisted me in my domestic arrangements, with as much anxiety, I
thought, as if matter of life or death; and having established me with
good servants, and put into my head more ideas than I had ever admitted
before on the subject, she left me in a very happy state.

The summer did pass happily. Mr. P. had such a variety of tastes, and so
kindly adapted them to mine; we enjoyed so much our studies at home; our
mineralogical and botanical rambles; and our sketching and boating
parties, that our life glided away in real felicity. As autumn and
winter advanced, we spent less time out of doors, and more was given to
our visiters, who remarked that now there might be some chance of seeing
us comfortably. But the house was never comfortable to visiters. My
dinners were ill arranged, and every thing was irregular. An old
gentleman, who had been intimate with Mr. P.’s father, and who continued
the warm friend and counsellor of the son, used frequently to ride over
of a frosty day to dine and sleep; or sometimes called upon us for
luncheon after he had been shooting. But he always came at some
unfortunate time; when our dinner was shabby, or ordered at some late
hour: or perhaps there was no fire to warm him after a cold ride; the
unswept hearth strewed with cinders; the room all littered, no one to
receive him, and when I did appear, probably my dress untidy, and a
frown on my brow. He had long had the habit of speaking his mind, and
very mortifying things he sometimes said, which made me hate him.

“Why, madam,” (a beginning which, from him, always shewed displeasure,)
“you seem to have a fresh cargo of new books every time I come here.
Let me see--Chemistry, Botany, Geology, Italian Tales, and Scotch
novels. All admirable food for the mind, to be sure; but we old
fashioned folk are vulgar enough to like a little comfortable food for
the body, also. Economy turned upside down.”

I had determined to make our little place a paradise. The garden, which
was to be brilliant at all seasons, was therefore crammed with flowers,
and the most beautiful shrubs were to ornament my new walks; a simple
pleasure, thought I, to which no one can object. Every week matted
parcels of treasures arrived by the coach, from distant nurseries; and
as Mr. P. acquiesced in all my suggestions, we planted and worked
together. In thus beautifying our place, we never imagined that we could
incur any great expense; besides, when the thing to be done was good, I
thought it a proof of a narrow mind to consider the cost. For the same
reason, I paid no attention to the weekly accounts of my housekeeper.
She understands managing much better than I do, and all those little
particulars, of a few pence perhaps, are really beneath my notice.

At last we were blessed by the birth of a boy, and I thought my felicity

    Alas! whene’er we talk of bliss,
    How prone we are to judge amiss!

I had sent to London for all my baby clothes, it seemed such a waste of
time to work at them myself. They were beautiful, so was my boy; and so
proud was I of him, that I was profuse in my generosity to all his
attendants. I determined to nurse him, and to attend him night and day;
and so completely was I engrossed by this new occupation, that I quite
neglected Mr. P., whose inseparable companion I had been till then.

When I was so much away from him, he had more leisure to perceive the
irregularity of the house. And when he went out and mixed with others,
he could not help feeling the want of comfort at home. Still he could
not bear to think that I was in the wrong.

In two years came another fine little boy, and with him fresh expenses.
I just then began to feel that money was not always to be had; long
accounts for dress, and fanciful furniture, for new books and scientific
journals, for plants, shells, and mineralogical specimens, and a variety
of other things equally necessary, came crowding in; and when I asked
for money, there was none at command. My husband thought that I had paid
for all these articles when I received them; and our ordinary expenses
had already absorbed our income. With a blind confidence that almost
amounted to weakness, he had trusted to my prudence, and made no
inquiries into the household management: perhaps, he too had been a
little inconsiderate in his farm and plantations; but far be it from me
to shade my own errors by throwing blame on him.

I begged of the people whose bills I could not pay, to wait a little;
and to keep them quiet I added debt to debt. But, at last, the crisis
came, and these doubled and trebled debts, amounting to an enormous sum,
appeared in dreadful array before Mr. P.

Then came demands from the country tradespeople who supplied our house;
brewer, butcher, baker, &c.; and then, too, we discovered that the
housekeeper, taking advantage of my foolish confidence, had never paid
them; she had deceived me by false receipts, and had in every possible
way betrayed her trust.

This shock awakened me; I understood the extent of my follies, and too
late saw their consequences: I saw Mr. P. sink under the blow, and oh!
Bertha, I did then, indeed, feel remorse. But, although wounded in the
most sensitive of his feelings, and involved by me in what he had of all
things most dreaded, he said he only reproached himself. His kindness
never failed; but I saw that I had lost his respect, and that he could
no longer rest his happiness on me. I became fretful and truly
miserable, and a sort of reserve and mutual coldness gradually took
place of that “boundless sympathy of soul” which we had till then

To be in debt, Mr. P. considered a state of actual disgrace, and he
would have gladly sold his patrimony to emancipate himself from the
load; but it was entailed. There were two other ways, either to raise
money on mortgage; or, if his creditors would give him time, to devote
the chief part of his income to a fund for the purpose of liquidating
their full claims; and, in the mean time, to live on bread and water if
necessary. He turned over in his mind also a hundred different schemes
for employing his time and talents, so as to augment our means; for I
could see, that though he dreaded the privations which I must endure,
yet that one of his greatest difficulties was the doubt, whether I could
conform to the rigorous parsimony that we were now called on to
practise. Anxious for advice, he rode off to consult his old friend and
counsellor Mr. Crispin, whom we had not seen for a long time; and I was
rather surprised by his return the same evening, as he generally slept
at the Hall, when he went there. He looked agitated, and though he
treated me with more tenderness than usual, since our misfortune had
burst upon him, yet he refused to tell me the result of his

In the evening, however, after a long silence he suddenly turned round
to the table where I was actually endeavouring to discipline my fingers
to the use of a needle, and said, “Gertrude, will you be contented to
remain here in acknowledged embarrassment, shut up from the world, and
endeavouring with me to save and to pay; or, will you for a time return
to your father and mother? You know they will receive you with open
arms; and you can there have the comforts so necessary to you and our
poor little children. I really think it will be the wisest course to ask
an asylum from them; for how can you adapt yourself to our present

“If you do not actually drive me from you, my dear Edward,” I replied,
“if you will suffer me to remain with you, poignantly as I feel the
reproach implied in your proposal, it will be my only consolation to
share your difficulties, and to expiate my follies by a devoted

“I felt--I knew that would be your decision,” said he, as a tear stole
down his cheeks. After a few days had passed, Mr. P.’s old friend came
to see us; not by any means an agreeable surprise to me, for I dreaded
his contempt and rebukes, and I was still but a wayward and only
half-humbled creature.

“Well!” said he, entering the room, “I believe I was unreasonable in the
plan I proposed; so I am come to try if we can do better. But what did
you think of it, madam?”

I told him that it had not been confided to me.

“How so--did not Edward tell it you? How was that, Mr. P.?”

“I did not like to give my wife the pain of knowing that you could have
thought so unkindly of her; and as I had no hesitation in regard to my
decision, it was not necessary to suggest to her such a cruel idea.”

“It was very generous forbearance on your part,” said he, “for you left
me full of indignation. I will tell you myself, Mrs. P. I have lately
inherited an estate in Jamaica; I am unable to take possession of it in
person, and I proposed that Edward should go as my representative, and
manage it for me, as long as his affairs are recovering here. But I made
it a positive condition, that he should give you over to your parents’
care, and quietly disencumber himself of a useless, extravagant wife.
That, madam, was my scheme. You are shocked, and turn pale; but you must
allow that it was very natural advice. However, I begin to think it not
quite right to propose such separations, nor is it just to refuse you
some trial of amendment. I have come now, therefore, to renew my
proposal, without that condition, and to offer a salary double that
which I first named. I will undertake the management of your property
here; and for this house, I will allow you a fair rent. And now, madam,
consider this well, and don’t let yourself be angry at me, for I am an
old man who deals in plain truth and plain sense.”

Wounded, as I had often been, by the harsh things this old man had said
to me, yet his blunt generosity now overcame every feeling but that of
gratitude; and before he left us the next day, every thing was arranged
with him for our immediate departure. The demesne and all our real
improvements were to be kept up; the whole income was to be applied to
the payment of the debt, which he undertook to discharge by regular
instalments; and our books and some other extravagant purchases, on
which I had lavished so much money, were to be sold, if he found it

In parting from us, he took my hand, for the first time since we had
been acquainted, and said, “I do now believe that you are attached to
your husband--I am glad you are going with him; and I trust the
experience you have so dearly bought, will be of lasting use to you
both. I have one word more, and I have kept it for the last, to make the
deeper impression. Remember these rules, fix them in your mind, and
repeat them daily.

“Buy nothing that you do not absolutely want; and never go in debt for
any thing you do want, be it ever so necessary.

“Waste nothing.

“Let ORDER preside in every part of your house.

“Remember, that a drawing-room, though elegantly furnished, is
disgusting, if untidy.

“It is no excuse for bad dinners and comfortless rooms, that the
mistress is engaged in her laboratory mixing gases, and trying
experiments that are known to every apothecary’s apprentice. Women,
indeed, may store their minds with knowledge, but then their homely
duties must not be neglected.

“Let me hear, that when your husband returns home, after a busy morning,
he finds a cheerful house, and a smiling wife; or, as sweet Allan Ramsay
would say, ‘a blazing ingle, and a clean hearth stane.’”

With heartfelt sorrow I quitted the place where I had spent the happy
beginning of my married life. It seemed as if I was leaving every thing
that was dear, and that I never could again enjoy the tranquil life
Edward and I had led for six years. Next came the parting with my
children and my parents! But I will not touch on the painful struggle
between different duties; nor will I mention the distress of mind which
my dear father and mother suffered, in consequence of my imprudence. I
consigned my dear boys, rosy, smiling, little, lively creatures, to my
good mother, and she has truly done them justice.

Our passage to Jamaica was most favourable. Mr. P. took possession of
the San Pedro plantation, in the name of Mr. Crispin, and we were
immediately settled in the dwelling house attached to it. It consisted
of one story only, as most of the houses in that country are so built,
to preserve them from hurricanes and earthquakes. A viranda extended
along the west and south sides, ornamented with oleanders, African
roses, grenadillas, passion flowers, and other lovely plants, trained to
the pillars. To the north-west lay a flower garden, inclosed by a hedge
of the Barbadoes flower-fence. At ten or twelve feet from the ground,
the stem of this beautiful and extraordinary plant divides into several
spreading branches, armed at each joint with strong crooked spines; and
every branch terminates in a loose spike of flowers, which are something
like carnations, and which combine the most glowing mixture of red,
orange, and green, accompanied by a strong, but agreeable smell. I shall
mention only one more feature of this charming spot: the garden was
sheltered by a large _Pimenta_ grove; and, as you are acquainted with
this beautiful species of myrtle, which produces the allspice, you may
imagine how delightful I must have found its fragrance, and its shade,
in that sultry climate.

The violent resolutions I had made to abjure my former errors, and to
devote myself to my household duties, now led me into the opposite
extreme; I entered into every little detail with such indefatigable
earnestness, and, ignorant of the manners and customs of the West
Indies, I made such an infinite number of teasing regulations, that I
completely worried my servants and slaves; and even Mr. P., I do
believe, thought this extreme the worst. I became so fussy and so busy,
that I thought I had time for nothing else, like the Norwegian ladies,
whose whole lives are absorbed in domestic drudgery.

One circumstance, however, greatly annoyed my feelings--the being
surrounded by slaves. Though they did not, in general, look unhappy, and
though they enjoyed many comforts, yet the whole system excited my
indignation. You know I had never learned to control or conceal my
sentiments, and I now took every opportunity of expressing them with
such silly enthusiasm, and so publicly, that I not only offended all the
whites, but injured the poor negroes themselves. My imprudent sympathy
not only made them feel their degraded situation the more acutely, but
materially helped to inflame that spirit of discontent which, more or
less, must always accompany slavery; and I really tremble in reflecting
how much I may have been accessary to the events which afterwards
happened. Yet you will be astonished, Bertha, when I add, that such was
the perverse inconsistency of my character, that while overflowing with
compassion for these poor creatures, I was a most arbitrary mistress to
those who were among our domestics, and tyrannical over all who were
under my influence. I had established an evening school for the slaves
when their work was done; I did really pay it unremitting attention, and
fancied that I found great pleasure in being useful; but I could not
bear to have my benevolent intentions thwarted: those who were negligent
in their attendance excited a stronger feeling than displeasure; and I
blush in confessing that the task-master found it was his interest to
treat those who had displeased me with increased severity.

One of the females who worked in the plantation had a very engaging
daughter; she had a good figure, spoke English tolerably, and had a
quickness and intelligence which particularly pleased me. I had a great
wish to have this girl about my person, and at last obtained her, though
against her mother’s will. She lived in the house, and was a most useful
and good-natured creature; and the rapidity with which she acquired all
the knowledge that I could teach, fully justified the high opinion of
her that I had formed.

Sometimes, in the intervals of my economical fever, I amused myself in
making little collections in natural history; and she endeared herself
extremely to me by the zeal with which she entered into all my pursuits.
Birds, insects, beetles, spiders, reptiles, were all caught by her
dexterity; and the tenderest plants and flowers were laid on my table as
fresh as when they were pulled; so that Mr. P. and I were able to
examine, at our leisure, all the natural productions of the island. In
short, during more than a year and a half, this blameless and innocent
girl, Nanina, continued high in my favour, and was treated more like a
daughter than a slave. She really loved me, and her efforts to please me
were most assiduous. But I had a temper which had never been controlled
in youth, and which was still unmanageable. Caprice alone governed it,
and I began to grow tired of poor Nanina. Perhaps she might have been
sometimes rather too familiar in her manner, but if so, it was my own
fault. Always in extremes, I now became dissatisfied with everything she
said or did. If she appeared hurt at this unaccountable change of
conduct, I was still more angry; and one day, that she threw herself at
my feet, and with tears in her eyes remonstrated against some unjust
accusation, I barbarously spurned her from my chair, and ordered her
never more to enter my room. Alas! how quickly does the spirit of
injustice grow; the next day I missed a favourite ring, and I accused
her of stealing it!--Yes, I suspected poor Nanina, who had been
invariably faithful, and whose principles I well knew had been proof
against many far greater temptations.

I learned that Nanina had gone to confide her griefs to her mother; and
as she did not return, I became so incensed at her for leaving me, as
well as at her family for encouraging her to stay away, and I spoke of
them with so much bitterness to the overseer, that he lost no
opportunity of treating them with rigour. No attention, however, was
paid to my positive orders for her return: she was not with her family;
to all inquiries about her, they preserved a stubborn silence; and it
was notorious that the unjust harshness of the overseer to them all was
the effect of my resentment. Several weeks elapsed without any tidings
of her, and irritated by what I considered her obstinacy, I determined
to communicate the whole affair to Mr. P., in order that he might
enforce obedience to my commands. I did so, and never shall I forget the
horror and astonishment he expressed at my conduct. At first I was vexed
and mortified by what he said, but when he calmly retraced to me all the
circumstances of the case, contrasting my professed sensibility with my
real inhumanity, and dwelling not only on the capricious extremes of my
affection and hatred for Nanina, but on the accumulated cruelty of
suspecting her without cause, of punishing her without proof, and of
revenging my quarrel with her on the whole family, I sunk into his arms,
I saw and acknowledged all my odious errors, and would have done
anything to compensate the poor girl for my base injustice, if she
could have been found.

All this took place in the beginning of summer; and in the middle of the
hottest part of that season Mr. P. was obliged to go to Spanish Town,
which was fifteen miles distant, about business. The day passed heavily,
the sultry air oppressed me, there seemed to be an unusual stillness
everywhere; the slaves even appeared to work in sullen silence, and I
scarcely heard a sound but the buzz of some insect, or the angry chirp
of the humming-birds as they quarrelled about the flowers at my window.
My thoughts turned mournfully upon my late conduct, and upon the severe
but just expostulations of my husband. They did indeed oppress my heart;
and in some measure to relieve myself, I went in the afternoon to the
school, but I found it locked and no creature near it. There was a
mountain path near the Pimenta grove, where we used sometimes to walk
late in the evening to enjoy the land breeze; and taking a book which
happened to lie on the sofa, I strolled through the grove and ascended
slowly from the valley. The hills in that country are covered with woods
which never lose their verdure; and after musing for some time on a
magnificent group of the stately cabbage-palm, the tall cedar, and the
wide spreading mahogany, I sat down under their shade. At length I
opened my book, and the very first thing I saw was my long lost ring! I
quickly recollected that many weeks before I had put it in there to keep
the place open, and I felt myself so shocked at my unworthy suspicions
of Nanina, and so angry at myself, that I was quite overcome. But
gradually the breeze revived me, and I burst into tears. At that moment,

    When sunk by guilt in sad despair,
    Repentance breathes her humble prayer,

I was startled by the sound of hurried footsteps, and Nanina herself
appeared before me. She stopped, hesitated--then seized my hand and
pressed it to her heart. “Oh! joy, joy,” said she. “Nanina thought never
more see you, and now me search for you, and no find you in house.” I
was painfully glad to see her--I hastily rose to take her home, and
began to express my feelings, but she interrupted me and said in the
most urgent tone, “This day me make escape, and run to tell mistress not
to stay in home to-night--they all rise this night, and go everywhere
for mischief, but first kill mistress, or make her slave.”

However startled by this alarming speech, I immediately proposed to
return home to save my husband’s papers and to tell the servants to

“No, no, no,--too late,--come with me, me put you safe, but no talky
now,--come quick,--come silent.”

As we hurried along through the forest paths, I could not help saying,
“Nanina, I was unjust to you--I accused you of stealing;--how comes it
that you are so kind to one who has used you so cruelly?”

“That is what me learn from the book you gave me, and taught me to
know--me never lose that book;--that book say, forgive your enemy, do
good to him that persecute you. Yes, you call me teef, but you be killed
dead if Nanina no come save you, and Nanina forget all but that you were
once good mistress.” She grasped the hand I had laid on hers, as she
said this, and I felt her tears drop on it. Oh what an exquisite moment!
I besought her to let me send intelligence to meet Mr. P., but the
faithful creature had already sent a trusty friend to warn him of the
danger, and to assure him of my safety. She hurried me on--it was dark
when we reached the river, and no canoe was to be seen; but we walked
along its banks for some distance, when to my great surprise it suddenly
disappeared. I then recollected hearing that in one spot the San Pedro
river dipped under ground; and there Nanina had purposely brought me,
that we might cross to the opposite bank, without the assistance of a
boat. At last, after many hours’ walking, and when I was scarcely able
to move, we arrived at one of the reed huts which the negroes inhabit. A
man and woman received us;--they said some words to Nanina which I
could not understand, but they looked good-naturedly at me, and laid
their hands on their hearts.

Now that we were apparently in safety, and that we could venture to
speak at ease, Nanina told me what had happened during the long time she
was absent. The day on which, in vexation, she had gone to complain to
her mother, she found a stranger in the hut. This was the famous
Apakong; he was one of the descendants of the Maroons, who had formerly
been so troublesome, and he fully inherited their fierce, discontented
spirit. He had instigated the slaves in our neighbourhood to rise
against their masters. My injustice to Nanina and her family was an
additional pretext, and fearful that her mother might suffer her to
return to me, and thus, perhaps, betray their plans, he took her away as
a hostage, and till that day had watched her closely; but a general
muster of the insurgents had happily given her an opportunity of
escaping from his less vigilant wife.

Nanina left me at early dawn, entreating me not to stir from the
negroes’ hut till she returned. Hours passed in the most intense
anxiety, and no tidings came. I knew not what the poor negroes said, but
I saw they were deeply anxious, listening to every sound, and watching
in every direction. They placed food before me, but I could not eat.
They brought me a branch of a pimenta tree, which overhung the hut, to
revive me by its smell; but it reminded me too strongly of the dwelling
at San Pedro, which I had begun to love, and of my dear husband, whom
perhaps I should never see again. My thoughts flew from that to my
former home on Ulleswater, and then still farther back, to the home of
my youth, and to those dear parents whose over-affection for me had been
their only fault. Alas! thought I, how will they feel, if----. But this
train of bitter reflections was suddenly interrupted by loud yells,
which appeared to be rapidly approaching. I was preparing to meet my
fate with resignation, when my two poor negro hosts quickly placed me in
a corner of the hut, and, covering me over with reeds and palm leaves,
made a sign of silence. An immense crowd surrounded the hut, and I heard
many loud and angry voices inside; but it was Nanina for whom they
asked; she was the object of their pursuit; and full of revengeful
eagerness in their inquiries about her, they did not observe the
suspicious heap of reeds.

They were not half an hour gone, when poor Nanina arrived, looking quite
worn down by fatigue. She had gone to obtain intelligence, and having
heard of the insurgents’ visit to the hut, and fearing their return, she
came to remove me to a place of greater safety. How or when we arrived
there I can scarcely recollect; and what took place afterwards I can
still less remember, for I fainted more than once with fright and
fatigue. I know that there was fighting close to me--the horrid yells
are still in my ears; and I think I can remember clinging to Nanina when
she was seized--a loud shout that was given soon afterwards--and then
finding myself again in silence; and I well remember that Mr. P. himself
came into a cave where I was lying, and took me home.

And what a scene presented itself there! The house partly burnt, the
furniture destroyed, the gardens ruined, and every species of
devastation committed, for which there had been time or means. My brain,
which was already bewildered, now completely gave way. I thought I was
the cause, not only of all this destruction, but of the death of Nanina
my preserver, though she was then with me. Nothing could calm me; and I
continued for a long time delirious.

I have since been told, that when Nanina’s messenger arrived in Spanish
Town, there was such a general conviction that the insurrection of the
slaves was a false report, that much time was lost; and before the
military were detached, the rebel negroes had done incalculable mischief
to the San Pedro and some neighbouring plantations. At last the troops
arrived, and Mr. P. with them; and after a short skirmish, the negroes
threw down their arms, and submitted. The ringleaders were taken; and
one of them acknowledged to Mr. P. that they had been a long time
secretly trying to excite a spirit of rebellion amongst the slaves; that
they agreed not to do any mischief to the San Pedro plantations, because
Mr. P. had always been lenient and considerate; but that afterwards they
felt so much the harshness of _my_ conduct, which became so different
from what it had been at first, that their vengeance was particularly
directed to our house.

My mind continued in such a state for many weeks, that Mr. P. determined
to try change of air and scene; and as soon as the necessary measures
had been taken to repair the losses at our plantation, he prepared to
take me to Antigua. I was insensible to every thing, and can only tell
you the circumstances since detailed to me. The voyage began well, but
in a few days, a hurricane arose, which dismasted the vessel, and
wrecked us on the coast of Hayti. The crew were saved with difficulty,
but every thing else was lost, and we were in a lamentable situation,
prisoners, absolutely destitute; and even Nanina and our man-servant
were separated from us. When I missed her, my former conviction of her
death returned with double violence; and I became still more
unmanageable. She found it very difficult to convince the people of
Hayti, that, though a slave, she did not wish for the liberty which
they offered; but at last, after much explanation and entreaty, Mr. P.
persuaded the government to let her return to our quarters. When she
appeared, I knew her, and tenderly embraced her; I also knew my
affectionate husband, who had so long been my only nurse. This momentary
return of reason was of short duration; it was followed by a fresh
access of fever, and all hope of my recovery seemed now to have

A favourable crisis, however, came. I awoke to restored consciousness;
and the first sounds that I heard were from my husband, at my bedside,
uttering his pious gratitude to heaven, in a low voice. I scarcely knew
the cause of his emotion; but afterwards, when I witnessed his daily and
fervent thanksgivings, and became sensible of the cloud which had
darkened my understanding, I felt my heart more truly and more deeply
touched by religion, than it had ever been, even in the period of my
highest enthusiasm. I may, indeed, say, that “The Lord put a new song
into my mouth, even a thanksgiving;” and I sincerely prayed that God
would permit me to repent of my sins and follies, and that he would turn
my whole heart to gratitude and humility.

My trials, however, were not yet over. Every day, indeed, made me more
and more conscious of my former errors; and every day I felt more
penitent; but I was now to act. Anxiety, want of rest, privations of
every kind, and probably infection, soon shewed their effects on my
faithful companions; and both yielded to the same horrid fever.
Experience of their tender care, during my own tedious recovery, had
taught me what to do; and duty, love, and gratitude, gave me strength. I
who, till lately, had not known what bodily exertion meant, was now
actually the only attendant on these poor patients; and I thank God my
humbled spirit was heedless of all trouble.

A French physician, who had been allowed to remain at Hayti during the
political changes there, was permitted to visit and prescribe for us. I
never can forget his compassionate kindness; and it touched him so much
to see me, still very weak, going through every menial work, that he
promised to lend me one of his own servants; but government interfered,
and for what reason I could never divine, forbade this act of
generosity. I am glad of it; for a strong practical lesson was very
useful in completing my reform. My anxious cares, however, were
ultimately rewarded by the recovery of Mr. P., and of Nanina; and as
soon as we were able to leave the miserable house where we had been
imprisoned, our good physician obtained leave to remove us to a better
situation; and he even ventured to supply us with money, for which we
were sadly distressed.

After a long and painful detention, the same active benevolence obtained
our release; and as soon as we could hire a vessel, we departed. My kind
husband offered to take me to Antigua, and to let me reside there, in
the idea that I might have a horrible impression of Jamaica; and he
proposed to visit San Pedro himself, from time to time; but I would not
consent: the days of folly and selfishness were past--I now knew and
felt my duty. We landed in Jamaica, and there a fresh misfortune awaited
us. The person who had been appointed to the care of the San Pedro
plantation during our absence, refused to give it up; he alleged, that
he had been acting under the direct orders of the proprietor; and more
than one reference was made to Mr. Crispin, before all the tedious
difficulties could be overcome, and before the law authorities would
interfere to dispossess him. To us, who had no ready money, a lawsuit
was difficult to manage; and a very long time elapsed before Mr. P. was
completely reinstated.

A severe illness, under which Mr. Crispin had been labouring, was a
great additional source of anxiety to us, and had materially helped to
protract the above affair; but shortly after its termination, we
received a most kind and fatherly letter from him, announcing his
perfect recovery; but intimating, that he considered his illness as a
warning to “set his house in order”; and inclosing a deed of gift to
Mr. P. of the whole Jamaica property. He said he had always intended to
bequeath it to him, but that he preferred giving it then, while Edward
was on the spot, that he might make whatever arrangements he liked
previous to his return to England. And this he hoped might be soon, as
he wished, before he died, to see us once more, and to restore to Mr. P.
his Ulleswater estate, which had nearly paid off all his debts. He also
sent a considerable sum of money to reimburse our expenses in the
lawsuit, and thus effected a sudden change in our circumstances, from
poverty to comparative affluence.

It was long since we had had money at command; and the first use Mr. P.
made of it was to enable me at once to visit the dear friends from whom
I had been so many years separated, without waiting for the final
arrangement of his affairs. I need scarcely tell you that the moment the
property was ours we gave Nanina her freedom. I had intended to have
proposed her remaining with me, but I learned that there had been a long
attachment between her and a deserving young man; and before we left
Jamaica I had the pleasure of seeing the faithful girl happily settled.

Just then the Phaëton was ordered to Brazil with despatches, and to
proceed from thence to England. Captain M. was nearly related to Mr.
P., and immediately offered me a passage, which, though much longer, was
much more agreeable than if made in any other way. I need not tell you,
Bertha, how greatly I enjoyed the time we remained at Rio, and how happy
I was to have you for my companion during the remainder of our voyage.

Thank heaven, I found my dear father and mother well and strong; my
children, too, had just come home from school for the vacation, and my
happiness would have been complete had my dear Edward been with me. My
boys have fine open generous minds, and I trust that in their education
I shall take warning by my own early faults.

From this little history of my past life you will perceive, my dear
Bertha, how much reason I have to be grateful for the afflictions with
which Providence thought fit to correct me; and though your education
has fortunately been very different from mine, still, this account of my
follies and their consequences will point out numerous dangers to avoid,
and new motives for continual watchfulness: every page of it will shew
you the necessity of a vigilant self-control, and will, I think, amply
demonstrate the value of homely virtues and of homely knowledge. Do not,
however, imagine that I seek to depreciate the value of scientific or
literary pursuits, or that my love for them has diminished;--far from
it:--I would only keep them in their right place; for I have at last
learned that the _useful_ and the _intellectual_ embellish each other;
and that the female character is more or less imperfect if deficient in
either.--G. P.

_11th._--The dormouse seemed less inclined to sleep during the last
return of frost, than before; and since the weather has become a little
more mild and warm, it seems to have laid aside its sleepiness almost
entirely. During one or two slight frosts, which lasted for only a day
or two, it slept constantly; and I think I may say, from all our
observations, that whenever the thermometer, which my uncle has attached
to the cage, falls to 42°, the dormouse becomes inactive; and if it
falls any lower, he remains insensible. When the warmth of the room
rises to 47° he is affected by the slightest touch, and is sure to waken
in the evening and to eat heartily of his store, which I keep supplied
with nuts, biscuits, and a little milk and water. When he is too lazy to
put his mouth down into the cup, he has a very amusing method of
drinking; he dips his tail into the milk, and then draws it through his
mouth. Last night he was so much alive that he very expertly repaired
his nest, which had been a little deranged. On the whole, as my uncle
says, it appears, that as soon as the necessity for sleeping is
removed, by artificial warmth and plenty of food, the torpid propensity
of this little creature vanishes.

My aunt remarked that there are many well-known facts of animals being
compelled by circumstances to relinquish their strongest
characteristics; for instance, the hyena lives on the roots of
_fritillary_ in the unfrequented parts of Africa, but in the
neighbourhood of inhabited places he feeds on carrion:--and the pied
flycatcher, which lives on soft seeds in this country, is well contented
in Norway with flesh dried in smoke.

The rain, which was incessant for two days and nights, stopped
yesterday, and a nice soft wind with a warm sun has so dried the ground,
that we have been out almost all the morning. I find that spring is
beginning to advance. The buds of several trees are visibly enlarging,
though it will be many weeks before they burst; the catkins of the
hazel, which appeared during the winter like little short green spikes,
are now lengthened, and so much more open, that each floret is to be
seen separately, though none are yet expanded. When we were rambling
through the hazel thicket, Mary shewed them to me; and also the little
buds which contain the flowers that afterwards produce the nuts,
scattered up and down on the branches. It is curious that these flowers
are so carefully preserved in buds, while the catkins are exposed
without protection during the whole winter.

The flower-buds of the peach trees are much swelled, the scales are
almost separating, and in some there is even a streak of red appearing.

The tufts of leaf and flower buds on the pear trees begin to shew
themselves more distinctly; and on the larch trees, the little brown
lumps are now growing larger, and preparing to let the nests of
imprisoned leaves burst forth.

It is very odd how many interesting things are passed over and not
observed. There was a young lady here last week who lives in the
country, and yet had scarcely noticed any of these small circumstances
in Natural History, which distinguish the changes of the seasons, though
she diligently walked out every day for two hours round the garden and

Notwithstanding my love for the rich and beautiful vegetation of Brazil,
I do like the seasons here, and the sort of feeling of expectation that
winter, dark and dreary as it is, gives of the welcome return of spring
with all its beauties.

_12th., Sunday._--My uncle, in conversing this morning about the
peculiar situation and circumstances of the Israelites, said that the
beneficence which graciously condescended to detail all their smaller
duties in the law, might be compared to the cloud which continued to be
their daily guide in the wilderness, directing them when to halt, and
when to advance; for the law was their sure guide to lead them blameless
through the journey of life, could they but have been obedient to it,
and restrained their unruly and stubborn dispositions.

“But, perhaps,” he continued, “there is not any where in the history of
man a stronger proof of the corruption of his heart, and at the same
time of the perfect free will bestowed on him, than in the simple facts
recorded in the history of the journey of the Israelites across the
desert; when at the very time they were under the immediate guidance of
God, they so frequently murmured and even rebelled against his commands.
Thus exercising their own will, notwithstanding the threats and
prohibitions, as well as the promises, conveyed to them by Moses.

“The book of Numbers, you know, is so called because it contains an
account of the two numberings of the people; the first of which took
place in the second year after their departure from Egypt; and the
second, in the plains of Moab, near the conclusion of their wanderings.
It comprehends about thirty-eight years; but the principal historical
events which it records happened at the beginning or the end of that
period,--such as, the death of Aaron, and the very interesting
narrative of Balak and Balaam’s insidious attempts. It also describes
the consecration of the tabernacle, and recapitulates the forty-two
journeys of the Israelites in the wilderness, under the miraculous
guidance of the cloud.

“This book also contains several instances of the prompt severity with
which God punished the rebellious murmurings and ungrateful seditions of
the people. But amidst the exemplary terrors of those judgments, it sets
forth on every occasion the continuance of his fatherly mercy and
goodness, in providing for their wants, in protecting and defending
them, in holding out the consoling offer of future restoration to his
favour, and particularly in the beautiful and comprehensive blessing
which he appointed to be pronounced by the priests, and to which, lest
any body should despise it, because uttered by a mere mortal, he annexed
this gracious and distinct promise, ‘and I will bless them.’

“The blessing[A] probably extended in its full meaning to after-ages,
and seems to be capable of a more comprehensive interpretation than what
appears in our translation. For it is very remarkable, that the name of
Jehovah, which is three times repeated, has each time in the original
Hebrew a different accent. Some commentators think that this refers to
the three persons of the Trinity; and that it has a strictly parallel
signification to the form of baptism which our Saviour established in
‘the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’

“The three parts of this benediction, they say, will be found to agree
respectively with the attributes of Three Persons. The Father being the
source of all blessings and preservation, temporal and eternal. Grace
and illumination coming from the Son, through whom we have the light of
all true knowledge. And Peace, that is, the peace of conscience and
inward tranquillity of mind, being essentially the gift of the Spirit,
whose name, St. John says, is the Comforter.”

_13th._--Every thing relating to the interior of Africa is so
interesting now that such efforts are making to explore it, that I think
you will be amused by a few lines from Mollien’s Travels about a kingdom
called _Fonta-diallon_.

He says, that the villages are like camps; there are but few cattle, and
those of diminutive size; horses are unknown, and the ass on which
Mollien rode, spread terror through the country. There is not sufficient
prey to invite the lion; and the surrounding mountains have never been
crossed by the elephant: but hyenas and panthers are abundant; and
monkeys people the woods.

The riches of the inhabitants consist in slaves, and they have some very
singular establishments for them, which seem to shew a much greater
degree of humanity than we find in any other part of Africa. I will copy
Mollien’s own words.

“Les Rumbdés sont des établissemens qui font honneur à l’homme de
l’humanité. Chaque village, ou plusieurs habitans d’un village,
rassemblent leurs esclaves, en leur enjoignant de se bâtir des cases
voisines les unes des autres; cette réunion s’appelle _Rumbdé_. On
choisit un chef parmi les esclaves; ses enfans, s’ils en sont dignes,
occupent sa place après sa mort. Ces esclaves, qui n’en portent que le
nom, labourent le champ de leurs maîtres; et lorsqu’ils voyagent, les
suivent pour porter leurs fardeaux. Jamais on ne les vend quand ils sont
parvenus à un age un peu avancé, ou qu’ils sont nés dans le pays; agir
autrement, ce serait causer la désertion de toute la Rumbdé; mais celui
qui se conduit mal est livré au maître par ses camarades, pour qu’il le

_14th._--It is only a fortnight since I first observed snow-drops
pressing up through the snow. Now at every step I find the early
spring-flowers displaying themselves; and myriads of gay crocuses,
yellow, white, and purple, are bursting every day through the grass of
the little lawn under the library windows. My aunt is going to paint a
group of them, which I am to have the pleasure of gathering for her.
Hepaticas, of all colours, are unfolding their little flowers which have
been so long coiled up, waiting for the gentle influence of spring.
Periwinkle, and even polyanthus, are beginning to blossom; and the
sweet-scented mezereon bushes are thickly covered with the flowers which
I saw quite formed in their little buds five months ago.

The weather has been for some days as soft and mild as it was cold and
harsh a week since; and this has rapidly brought out both birds and
plants. Even my little dormouse has been more lively.

I have been reading a description of winter, which gives a more
melancholy idea of it than I think it deserves.

“Winter, season of death, is the time of the sleep, or the torpor of
nature; insects without life, reptiles without motion, and vegetables
without verdure. The inhabitants of the air destroyed; those of the
water inclosed in prisons of ice; and even the terrestrial animals, in
some countries, confined in caverns and holes.”

I do not think that, in the depth of winter, all the little living
creatures were so torpid as they are thus described; but the author
nicely says, afterwards, “The return of the birds in spring is the first
signal of the awakening of nature.” I agree with him in that, as I have
for some days observed, that several birds have been singing in an under
voice, as if trying their powers; even a thrush, early as it is, warbled
a few low notes, for Mary and me, this morning. But there is a little
brown bird, with a bluish, ashy-coloured neck, that for two or three
weeks I have constantly heard, as it sits on a fir tree near my window,
loudly repeating its sweet, though unvaried song. It is the winter
fauvette, or hedge-sparrow; which, however, does not belong to the
sparrow tribe. The fauvette is described as a lively, amiable bird, very
active, and to be found every where; in gardens, in thickets, and

Numbers of insects, too, may be discovered. In our walks last month, we
found many under the bark of trees, or concealed in the moss; and Mary
told me that some of these are scarce in the summer months. We have
often brought home, in our pocket handkerchiefs, great tufts of moss
from the roots of trees; and by shaking it over white paper, we have
easily collected the insects.

I forgot to mention the golden saxifrage, or stonecrop, with which the
shrubbery is bordered, and which is just beginning to flower; and in
some of the hedges the sloe is coming into bloom. But, mamma, even in
the depth of winter, there was no where that appearance of death
described by that melancholy writer; for the bramble retained its
leaves, and gave a thin scattering of green to the hedges; while the
berries of the wild rose, the euonymus, and the hawthorn, along with the
pretty red dog-wood, gave every thing a cheerful look.

I have often thought of the walk I had with my uncle in November, and of
the quantity of things which he taught me might be found to observe,
even in the worst seasons.

_15th._--All this winter we have observed great numbers of the pretty
little lady-bird, or _coccinella_, clustered together in a privet-hedge;
they are generally collected at the joints of the branches, and at first
I imagined they were red berries. Mary never observed so many before,
and she therefore supposes that the _aphis_ must have been uncommonly
abundant last autumn. She tells me that the lady-bird is of great
service--for in its larva state, it feeds entirely on aphides; and when
these mischievous grubs are very numerous, the multitudes of their
pretty little destroyers always seem to increase in proportion. In 1807,
they covered the cliffs at Brighton in such swarms, that the inhabitants
were almost alarmed, not being aware that they came from the
neighbouring hop-grounds, where their larvæ had been usefully employed
in preying on the aphis, which had committed such ravages among the hop
plants, and which is there called _the fly_.--Their utility is so well
known in France, that they are almost held sacred there; and, indeed,
they are so pretty as to be favourites every where.

Just in the same manner as the locust-eating thrush accompanies the
locusts, so the coccinellæ seem to pursue the aphides: whether the
latter cross the sea is not known; but the coccinellæ certainly do, as
they have often alighted upon vessels at sea.

_17th._--I have just read a passage in Kalm’s Travels in North America,
which seems, in some degree, to confirm that opinion of Dr. Walker’s,
about the flowering time of foreign plants, which my uncle mentioned
last week.

“The crab trees opened their flowers yesterday; whereas, the cultivated
apple trees which were brought from Europe, had already lost theirs. The
wild cherry trees did not flower till May 12th; but the European ones
had opened theirs by the 24th of April. The walnuts of this country had
neither leaves nor flowers, when the European kinds had both. Hence it
appears that the trees brought over from Europe, of the same kind with
the wild trees of North America, flower much sooner than the latter. I
cannot say the cause of this forwardness, unless it be that they bring
forth their blossoms as soon as they get the degree of warmth to which
they have been used in their own country: it almost seems as if the
native trees of this country are directed, by _experience_, not to
trust to the first warmth of spring, while the flowers of the European
trees are often killed by the late frosts.”

I read this passage to my uncle, and asked him if these plants did not
seem almost to have instinct?

He smiled, and said, “I can give you another remarkable fact. The wild
potatoe, from Valparaiso, flowers in the garden of the Horticultural
Society in October, which you know is the spring of South America. All
these curious circumstances are manifest proofs of the wisdom of
Providence, who has impressed on plants and animals the habits proper to
the situation in which he placed them.”

I afterwards asked my uncle if the American fruits were very late in
ripening, as the blossoms are so long kept back by winter.

“No,” he said, “the summer is very warm, though the winter is long and
severe; and, as animals become more sensible to heat, after being
previously exposed to cold,--for the same reason that your hands glow on
coming into the house after having been rubbed with snow--so vegetables
seem to be excited to a greater degree of energy by the previous intense
cold. Vines, in grape-houses which have been exposed to the open winter
air, become forwarder and more vigorous than those which have been kept
shut up in the house. In the northern latitudes, after the dissolution
of the snow, the rapidity of vegetation would astonish you.

“Clarke mentions, in his travels in Scandinavia, that it is by no means
uncommon for barley to be reaped in six weeks after it has been sown;
for in summer the sun is so long above the horizon there, that there is
scarcely any intermission of the warmth of the soil during the night.”

_19th, Sunday._--“While we are engaged in considering the history of
Moses,” said my uncle this morning, “I think we should dwell a little on
a very striking part of his character, in order to imitate it, though,
indeed, we can never be tried like him, in having the guidance of such a
wayward and stiff-necked people. Bertha, guess to what quality I

“Perhaps to his meekness, which the Bible mentions as being remarkable,”
I replied.

“Yes; meekness and spirit united. No man could have given more proofs of
his courage than Moses. He slew the Egyptian who was killing one of his
Hebrew brethren; he beat the Midianite shepherds though alone and
unsupported: he boldly remonstrated with Pharaoh in his own court, and
feared not all the power of Egypt; but more than all, when God commanded
him to approach, he ventured amidst all the terrors of Sinai: and yet
that spirit, which made and knew his heart, says ‘He was very meek
above all men upon earth.’ Mildness and fortitude may well lodge
together in one breast; it is not the fierce and cruel who are the most

“In the sedition of Miriam and Aaron, we see a beautiful example of his
meekness, and of that true magnanimity which arises from it; and those
very qualities are given as the reason why God avenged their ingratitude
to Moses. Their trial must have been the more painful to him, because
the enmity which he endured was from his own nearest relations. Yet he
interceded for them, and God remitted the punishment which they had
justly incurred. There, my children, is a pattern for you of that
forbearance and generosity, which our Saviour afterwards so strongly
commanded his disciples to exercise.

“If Moses himself excited the anger of the Lord at Meribah-Kadesh, by
the distrust which induced him to strike the rock twice, as if doubtful
of God’s omnipotence--if even he could be guilty of such weakness, or
could be provoked by the people to ‘speak unadvisedly with his lips,’
how much more then do all of us require a continual watchfulness of our
hearts, lest we give way to the same kind of ignorant and presumptuous

“The punishment of Moses, by prohibiting him from leading his people
into the promised land, was peculiarly mortifying; and afforded an
exemplary lesson to all Israel of the necessity of obedience, faith, and
humility, to secure the favour of God. How severely Moses felt this
infliction, and how meekly he bore it, appears from his humble, and it
would seem repeated supplications to the Lord to reverse the sentence;
but it was reserved for a greater than Moses to teach His disciples how
to pray on such an occasion: ‘O my Father, if it be possible, let this
cup pass from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.’

“I think I have noticed to you, on a former Sunday, the perfect candour
of Moses; in the present case it is again conspicuous. His offence, his
punishment, and his entreaties are frequently alluded to in the
Pentateuch, but are totally omitted by Josephus. In the original
narrative they are mentioned as if necessary to explain the whole
truth--they are expressed in sorrow and humiliation;--and the
ingenuousness with which both the crime and the disgrace are recorded by
himself, form a striking contrast with the suppression of those facts by
that cautious historian in describing the character of the great
legislator, to whom he looked up with so much reverence.”

_20th._--Several insects of different kinds appear now on the fruit
trees, and are already beginning to do mischief to the little buds--some
to those containing the leaf, and some to those of the blossom. When I
heard this, I said, that if they could be picked off the blossoms, it
would not signify much if some of the leaves were destroyed; but my
uncle reminded me that the leaves are necessary to the nourishment of
the fruit; for unless there are leaves to prepare the sap for that
purpose, the fruit withers away.

It has been found, he says, by his friend Mr. Knight, that where a peach
branch had only flower-buds on it, the grafting a leaf-bearing twig to
its extremity, so as to produce leaves, was of great benefit to the
young fruit. Mr. K. having also observed that a melon plant began to
decline, which apparently had sufficient foliage for the nourishment of
its fruit, he examined the plant more carefully, and discovered that a
runner had grown out of the frame at one end, with an additional melon
on it. He took this one off, and the rest of the fruit again flourished.

My uncle is going to try a new wash, which can do no injury, and which
has been much recommended to him, for destroying the various grubs and
insects that are so mischievous to the fruit-trees. He sent yesterday to
Gloucester, for some of the water through which coal gas had been
passed; and he had three gallons of it mixed up to-day with one pound
of flower of brimstone--to this was added soft soap, enough to make it
adhere when laid on with a painter’s brush. It was mixed over the fire,
and it may be done so with perfect safety, he says, as it is not

Many insects deposit their eggs in the bark, or in the young buds; and
it is their larvæ or caterpillars that do the greatest mischief. The
_aphides_ injure all the varieties of plum; and there is a _coccus_
sometimes in such quantities on those trees, that in summer every twig
is thickly beaded with little red, half-round specks. In spring, the
larvæ exhaust the trees by sucking out the rising sap. The grub of a
little brown beetle destroys the blossom of the pear-trees; and a
saw-fly injures the fruit so as to cause it to drop prematurely. In
short, almost every kind of fruit tree has its peculiar family of grubs,
which, in their larva state, prey on the sap, the leaves, or the
flower-buds; and it is to prevent this that my uncle is going to destroy
them by that gas wash.

Among various enemies of the apple-tree, he shewed me in particular the
apple aphis, or American blight, which was not known in this country
till the year 1787. It is a very minute insect, covered with a long,
cotton-like wool; and fixes itself in the chinks and rough parts of the
bark. It has spread throughout the kingdom, and about fifteen years ago
destroyed such numbers of apple-trees in this country, that it was
feared the making of cyder would be quite at an end, if some mode of
banishing those insects was not discovered. Spirit of turpentine, or
smearing the branches with oil, were found to be useful remedies: but
Sir Joseph Banks has succeeded completely by the more simple process of
taking off all the rugged old bark, and then scrubbing the trunk and
branches with a hard brush. My uncle has found this insect infesting two
of his apple-trees; so he will try each of those methods as a fair

_21st._--Caroline and I took advantage of a walk with my uncle this
morning, to remind him of his promise to teach us something of geology.

“Are you prepared,” said he, “to learn the general classification?
Though uninteresting till you know more, it is the necessary foundation
to any knowledge of that science.”

“Oh yes, we are anxious to learn it, or any thing that you will be so
good as to teach us.”

“Very well,” said my uncle; “we will begin at once. In examining the
surface of the earth, a person would at first imagine that the confused
variety of mineral substances he saw, was the result of mere chance; but
if in different places he should find the same substances constantly
linked together--if, for instance, in traversing the different coal
districts, he were to find sand, clay, chalk, freestone, coal,
limestone, sandstone, slate, and granite, succeed each other with
tolerable uniformity, he would soon perceive that there was something
like system in their arrangement. And on further examination, he would
discover that this general _series_ may be subdivided into several
lesser series or _formations_, in which, also, considerable regularity
may be observed. The order, then, in which these series are classed by
geologists, is what I am now going to explain to my little girls.

“The first or upper series comprehends the mixed beds of sand, gravel,
pebbles, and clay, which are frequently found covering the great chalk

“The second class includes several different series more or less
connected with each other: the most important of them are--1st, the
chalk formation; 2dly, a series of sands and clays beneath the chalk;
3dly, a series of calcareous freestones, such as Portland and Bath
stone; and, 4thly, beds of red marl and sandstone, sometimes containing
alabaster and rock salt.

“The third general class comprises beds of coal and the limestones and
sandstones on which they repose.

“The fourth or argillaceous class of rocks is characterised by their
disposition to split into thin _laminæ_; such, for example, as the
common roofing slate.

“The fifth, and lowest, contains all the varieties of granite and

“These five series, or orders, have been named by one of our best
geological writers, superior, super-medial, medial, submedial, and
inferior. But the most general relation under which all these minerals
present themselves, is that from which they have been named _primitive_
and _secondary_. The primitive comprehend the lowest series of rocks,
which serve as the bases upon which the others rest. They never contain
any traces of former animals or vegetables, and may be supposed to have
constituted the materials of the earth’s original surface.

“On the other hand, the different series which cover them, sometimes
contain the remains of vegetables and animals imbedded in them; or
sometimes they are made up of broken fragments of the primitive rocks,
cemented together in a new form; and these are therefore considered to
be of a subsequent and secondary origin. Geologists, however, having
observed that between the primitive rocks, and those which exhibit most
distinctly the characters of the secondary class, there are others
partaking of the nature of both, and containing comparatively but few
organic remains, have distinguished them by the title of _transition
rocks_. And the rocks which are above this transition series, they call
_floetz_ rocks; a German term, implying their having been deposited in
horizontal beds, or _strata_; while the strata of the older rocks were
generally inclined at considerable angles. These floetz rocks were again
subdivided into old floetz and new floetz; and to the new floetz other
writers have given the name _tertiary_.

“Though the distribution into the five series or orders, which I gave
you, is, I think, the arrangement best suited to the science, yet it is
necessary that you should recollect these other terms, because they are
alluded to in almost every work to which you will have to refer. But I
have given you quite enough for your first lesson.”

As soon as I came back from our walk, I wrote down all I could recollect
of what my uncle had told us; and I have transcribed it here, in hopes
that it may interest dear Marianne: this, at all events, will fix it
more firmly in my own head.

_22nd._--My aunt has just had some small plants of the rosa Banksiæ put
in the stove.--This rose tree grows in the most rapid manner out of
doors, and is a great ornament to the conservatory, one end of which it
covers entirely with its bunches of small white flowers tinged with
pink. It produced some shoots last autumn, of nine or ten feet in
length, which the gardener bent downwards, and laying them in the
ground, he conducted them towards the adjoining wall, to which he
nailed up the ends. They now look healthy and have fine swelling buds,
as if they would soon be in a very flourishing state. He has found that
the way to manage this rose is to plant it in a sandy loam, and to keep
it very closely nailed to the wall, just like the Morella cherry.

I take great pleasure in watching the progress of the garden. The peach
blossoms are really opening, and are lovely. The gardener has been very
busy protecting them from the harsh winds, and from rain and hail, by
woollen nettings stretched completely over them. But my uncle is always
trying some pretty experiments; and one small tree is covered, or at
least its blossoms are covered, by wool attached to the branches.
Another is covered by small branches of birch, about two feet long,
which were collected as soon as the leaves were full grown, in the end
of June, and preserved under cover. There are studs in the wall, which
project eight or ten inches, and to these the birchen branches are
nailed with shreds. In order to try these experiments fairly, the trees
which he has selected for them are on the same wall and in the same

We have been watching the tomtits, and find that they really do eat up
the insects and larvæ that would be destructive to the blossoms; but I
cannot say so much for the pretty, but mischievous bulfinch, which too
often amuses itself in picking off the flower-buds.

What endless entertainment, mamma, there is in observing the operations
of the birds! For some days we had heard a bird in the low wet grounds,
for ever going on with two notes, like the whetting of a saw; and at
last we traced it to a place by the river side, where there are some
willow trees, and the remains of an orchard. We found it nestling in the
decayed stems. Mary pronounced it to be the little black-capped marsh
titmouse. We went two or three times to the old orchard, where we saw it
very busy picking off little chips, in order to deepen a hole in a
decayed willow tree for its nest; and I am told, that it makes the
bottom much larger than the entrance.

The birds of passage which came here for winter are now all taking their
departure; and others will, I suppose, soon replace them. Frederick
often points out large flocks of them at a great height; but it is the
charming singing birds that interest me: the blackbird, for instance,
with his sweet whistle; and the thrush, who constantly varies his song.
But still more, the missel thrush, the largest of the species, who,
perched on a lofty tree, warbles a loud carol to the coming Spring, with
a very strong note. This bird is eleven inches long, and Frederick
shewed me that it is distinguished by its having the three outer
tail-feathers tipped with white.--It goes as far north, he says, as
Norway; and is common in Russia. It is welcomed here as the harbinger of
spring, and yet the country people call it the storm cock, because it is
sometimes heard in stormy weather, drowning the voice of the other
birds. It is particularly fond of building in old ash trees overgrown
with lichens.

_23rd._--Franklin is going to have several hives of bees, and is
preparing an enclosure for them, in which there will be some of their
favourite flowers; it is placed near a rivulet, as they use a great deal
of water. They are particularly fond of mignonette, thyme, mustard when
left to go to seed, turnips, white clover, and beans of all kinds. These
are their principal favourites; and it is said they afford the purest
honey. Rosemary too is a favourite, but seldom produces much honey in
this country, unless the season be warm and dry. It is worth
cultivating, however, my aunt says, being one of the principal plants
which gives the flavour to the famous Narbonne honey. She has had some
planted in the warmest part of the bee enclosure, or Franklin’s apiary,
as Frederick calls it. There are several lime, poplar, and berberry
trees, planted round it; and a broom hedge is sown outside.

In a new swarm, their first care is to build cells to serve as cradles;
and very little honey is collected, until an ample store of _bee-bread_
has been laid up for their food. This is composed of the pollen or dust
of the anthers of flowers, which the _workers_ are constantly employed
in gathering. They fly from flower to flower, to collect it in the
little baskets formed of hair, with which their hind legs are provided;
and having deposited their booty in the hive, they return for a new
load. This bee-bread, after it has been received into the bees’ second
stomach, is brought up again, changed into a whitish jelly; and with
that substance, the young brood are diligently fed by other bees, till
they change into _nymphs_.

Bees do not solely confine themselves to flowers; in collecting honey
they are fond of the juices of fruits also, and for this reason my aunt
recommended this bee enclosure to be placed very near the orchard which
Franklin planted. With their tongue, which my aunt says is not a tube,
as some people have supposed, but a real tongue, they lap or lick the
honey, and convey it into the first stomach, which is called the
honey-bag, and which, when full, is much swelled--it is never found in
the second stomach. How the wax is secreted from the honey, or what
vessels are employed for that purpose, is not yet ascertained. But my
aunt shewed me the wax-pockets of the bee; by gently pressing the body,
we could perceive on each of its four segments, two whitish flaps, of a
soft membranaceous texture, in which the wax is placed.

There is another substance made by the bees, and called _propolis_; it
is collected from poplar, birch, fir, and gummy trees like the
taccamahaca. Bees have been observed to open the buds with their
mandibles, so as to draw from them a thread of viscid matter; and then,
with one of their second pair of legs, they take it from the mouth, and
place it in the baskets on their hind legs. It is used in stopping every
chink of the hive, by which cold, or wet, or insects, can enter; it
gives a finish to the combs, and the sticks which support these combs
are covered with it as well as the interior surface of the hive.

In collecting the pollen from plants, it has been observed that bees
never mix the farina of different flowers; each is made use of in
separate little pellets, and it is said that skilful botanists have been
able to distinguish by the farina what flowers the bee had visited.

My aunt told me that she had read of a lady who had so constantly
attended to her bees, and was so beloved by them, that they seemed to
delight in flying round her and listening to her voice; they had no
sting for their kind mistress, and when, after a storm, she gathered
them up, wiped, and tried to revive them by the warmth of her hand, they
gently buzzed their gratitude as they recovered. When she visited the
hive, she caused no alarm; and if, on seeing them less diligent than
usual, or ill or languid, she poured a little wine at the outside of the
hives, they always expressed their thanks in the same manner.

Franklin’s new apiary, you see, has been of great benefit to me, for it
led to a long conversation with my good aunt, who told me all those
circumstances and many others in her usual clear way; and when we came
home, she put into my hands a little book called _Dialogues on
Entomology_, in which she says I shall find much useful information
about bees and other insects.

_24th._--At breakfast this morning my uncle received a letter from a
brother of Colonel Travers, who you know is at Madras. It was written
while he also was at breakfast, and Mr. T. mentions that there were then
on the table eatables of different kinds, which had come from the four
quarters of the globe.

This set us to consider from whence all the articles that were on our
own table had been collected. Every one named something. The tea from
China, the coffee from Arabia, West Indian sugar, Narbonne honey, the
salt from Cheshire, and our home-made bread, butter, and cream. Then
there were Coalbrook-dale cups and saucers, an urn from Birmingham,
tea-pots and spoons of Mexican silver, a butter-vessel of Bristol
glass, knives of Swedish steel, and an Irish table-cloth and napkins.

Frederick proposed that we should calculate the number of people that
must have been employed in producing all these various articles. He
began with salt, as one of the simplest things on the table, and he
easily ran through the operations of digging it out of the mine, making
the little baskets in which it is sold, and conveying them by land or by
water carriage to Gloucester; nor did he forget the wholesale and retail
dealers, through whose hands they passed before they were deposited with
my aunt’s housekeeper. But my uncle reminded him that making fine salt
was not only a far more complicated process than he seemed to imagine,
but also that, unless he took into account the machines employed in
every one of the operations, and even the tools requisite for making
those machines, he would not be able to give a satisfactory answer to
his own proposition. “The same remark,” he continued, “will apply to the
production of everything else on the table: this roll, for instance,
must not only include the labour of the baker, but that of the bolter,
the miller, the reaper, the sower, and the ploughman, besides the
manufacturers of all the implements they used. Or, take coffee, which,
however simple the mere gathering of the berries and drying them in the
sun may appear, can only be brought to this country through the complex
operations of commerce, and by means of a ship, which of itself includes
the combined efforts of a hundred different trades before she can
proceed a single mile on her voyage.”

“How rich, uncle,” said I, “must any country become, where the people
are employed both in agriculture and manufactures!”

“Yes,” he replied, “as long as they are well paid, or, in other words,
as long as there is a demand for as much as they can produce. But you
know, Bertha, the inhabitants of any country can only consume a certain
quantity of food, or a certain quantity of clothes; and if the hands
employed raise more corn, or make more goods than are wanted, they must
be thrown out of work until the overplus has been called for, as no one
will pay for what they do not want. Something else, you see, is
necessary to enrich a nation besides agriculture and manufactures.”

“Oh yes! I know what you mean, uncle; I am sure--commerce--by which that
overplus is sent to other countries, and exchanged there for things
which we do want.”

“You are right, Bertha. The agricultural and manufacturing classes may
furnish each other with the necessaries, and with many of the comforts
of life; but, without the aid of commerce, they can never raise a nation
to any great degree of wealth. Foreign commerce is the great spur to
their industry; it opens a thousand channels to their activity, and
mutually enriches both themselves and the countries to which they trade.
But it does much more--it brings distant nations into contact with each
other--it makes up for the partial distribution of soil and climate--it
may be said to equalize the bounties of Providence, and it is the grand
means of spreading knowledge and civilization to the most remote corners
of the world.”

_25th._--In consequence of our breakfast conversation yesterday on the
productions of various countries, we invented a very amusing play in the
evening, and I assure you that it was conducted with great precision.

Each person wrote on a bit of paper the name of some town, country, or
province; these tickets were then shuffled together in a little basket,
and whoever drew one out was obliged to give an account of some
production, either natural or manufactured, for which that place was
remarkable. This new-fashioned game was highly entertaining, for it
brought out a number of curious bits of information which we had picked
up, and which we might never have mentioned to each other, only from
some such motive.

One of these was, that in Persia they have the art of carving spoons out
of pear wood, which are so delicate and so thin, that the bowl of the
spoon can be folded up like paper, and opened again. The handles too are
so slender, that it is a particular accomplishment to carry them when
full to the mouth in such a dexterous manner as to prevent their
breaking. These delicate utensils are one of the accompaniments of men
of rank, being only used by princes and noblemen when sipping their

My aunt having drawn Siberia, said she had a nice match for Frederick’s
wonderful spoons. In the province of Wiatka bowls and cups are made of
the knobs which grow on the birch trees; they are yellow, marbled with
brown veins, and when varnished are very pretty. But some of them are
turned so extremely thin, as to be semi-transparent; and when put into
hot water they become so pliant that they may be spread out quite flat
without injury, as they return to their original shape in drying.

The ticket for Constantinople was next drawn, and produced a description
of the rose beads which are so much prized by the Sultan’s wives, that
they are usually called “Beads of the Haram.” Those poor ladies have so
little employment, that they sit for hours passing these beads, when
strung, through their fingers. They are composed of the petals of the
rose carefully picked, and pounded into a smooth paste in an iron
vessel; which makes them quite black, on the same principle, you know,
mamma, that ink is made by mixing a preparation of iron with _gallic
acid_, of which the rose petals contain a small quantity. When the paste
is quite smooth it is made up into little balls, which are perforated
for stringing, and then slowly dried in the shade. When they have become
hard they are rubbed in the palms of the hands along with a little attar
of rose, till quite smooth; and they always preserve their sweet smell.

Paraguay was on the next ticket, and Wentworth, who remembers all he
reads, gave us a description of the famous tea of that country, large
quantities of which are used in Chili and the states of Buenos Ayres. It
is called Maté; and is made by boiling the leaves in an oval-shaped
metal pot, about twice as large as an egg, on the hot embers in a
brasier which stands at all seasons of the year in the middle of the
room. When the water boils, a lump of burnt sugar is added, and the pot,
being placed in a filagree silver stand is handed round; each person
drawing the maté into his mouth through a silver or glass tube which is
furnished at the lower extremity with a bulb pierced with small holes.
The natives drink it almost boiling hot; and they have always some of
this tea ready prepared, whether employed at home or in the fields. No
one even departs on a journey without being provided with a quantity of
the dried herb, as well as with a maté-pot, which is either carried in
the hand, or suspended round the neck by a small chain if the person is
on horseback. I was rather ashamed to confess that all these
circumstances were new to me, as well as that the tree is a species of
holly, the _Ilex Paraguayensis_; but you will tell me if they are

Then came Kamtschatka, which produced an account of the _Sarana_, a
species of lily that is universal in the eastern parts of Siberia, and
almost covers the ground with its blossoms. The bulbs are gathered in
August, and laid by for use; after being baked they are reduced to
flour, and are not only used in soups and other dishes, but make the
best bread of the country. Sometimes they are boiled and eaten like
potatoes; and besides their own exertions in collecting them, the
Kamtschatkans have a provident little mouse, which not only hoards them
in its magazines, but has the sagacity to bring them out in sunny
weather to dry. The natives search for and seize on these hoards, but
they always leave some of the contents for their poor little purveyors.
There are several species of this lily, from one of which the Russians
produce a sort of wine.

We had afterwards the _Apatea_, or Hottentot bread, made from a parasite
which grows on the roots of a _Euphorbia_ at the Cape of Good Hope, and
which has neither stem nor leaf--only a flower that produces a large
round and excellent fruit; but I really have not time to describe any
more of these interesting little scraps, for my aunt says I must go out
and walk.

_26th, Sunday._--My uncle read to us this morning the history of
Balaam’s expedition with Balak, in order to curse Israel. This produced
a long conversation; and I shall endeavour to give you an outline of
what my uncle said.

“It appears from Scripture that there were two countries called Midian.
That to which Moses had fled from the Egyptians was on the Red Sea; the
other was on the River Arnon, near Moab; and as it was peopled by the
descendants of Abraham and Keturah, we may suppose that the knowledge of
the true God had been preserved there, though mixed with idolatrous
corruptions. We know that in the days of Abraham, and long afterwards,
there was a priesthood amongst the Canaanites, who preserved in great
part the true worship.

“In the age of Joseph, there was a priest of On, and in the time of
Moses, Jethro, a priest of Midian, whose daughters they married; and it
cannot be supposed that either Moses or Joseph would have been allowed
to connect themselves with idolaters.

“It is not surprising, therefore, that Balaam should address the Lord as
his God, though his worship was probably debased by superstition. It
appears, indeed, from several concurring circumstances, that he was a
real priest and prophet of the ancient patriarchal religion; but he was
the last: for it had at that time become so corrupt, that it was
necessary to separate the Israelites from the rest of the world, in
order to preserve their religion.

“We have other instances to prove that this mixture of idolatry with the
true worship did not hinder God from revealing himself to a few
individuals who followed that mixed religion, as Abimelech, and also
Nebuchadnezzar. Another proof that the patriarchal religion had not been
sufficiently forgotten for its language to have become obsolete, is,
that Balaam’s expressions bear a strong resemblance to those used by the
other prophets; and that the epithets which he applies to the Supreme
Being are the same as those employed by Moses, Job, and other inspired

“But Balaam, though a true priest and prophet, was unsound in heart,
worldly, and mercenary. His selfish disposition and degenerate character
were probably as well known to Balak as his high qualifications as a
prophet were to the people; and both well fitted him for a tool in the
hands of that artful monarch. It was customary among the heathen in
those ages, at the beginning of a war, to devote their enemies to
destruction with all the solemnities of religion; and, terrified by the
recent victories of the Israelites, lest they should “lick up all, as
the ox licketh up the grass,” he applied to the venal prophet in his
distress. He knew Balaam’s eminence in the church, and his influence
over the people; he knew that his interference might be purchased, and
he bribed him to come and curse the invaders.

“Though Balaam was eager to obtain the proffered reward, and though he
was flattered by the high opinion in which his blessings and curses were
held, he well knew that they would be of no avail without the sanction
of God. He, therefore, deferred giving any answer till he should have
consulted the divine will; and when that will was made known to him, he
at once refused Balak’s request, alleging that God had said to him,
‘Thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.’ This refers to
the blessing given to Abraham, Genesis xii., and which was afterwards
renewed to Jacob, Genesis xxvii. Balak, however, was not discouraged by
the first refusal. He repeated his invitation along with promises of an
unlimited recompense; and Balaam, having this time obtained the Divine
permission, departed with the princes of Moab.”

I asked my uncle why he was now permitted to go, since his proposal to
do so before had excited God’s displeasure?

“God often graciously stays the wicked in their sins,” said my uncle,
“or warns us when our inclinations are evil; but if we obstinately
persist in indulging them, he then leaves us to our own free-will, and
abandons us to our foolish imaginations. Balaam had set his heart on the
promised honours and rewards, and was unwilling to forego them,
notwithstanding God’s distinct prohibition; so the foolish man was
allowed to follow his inclination, to proceed in his own way, and to
complete his own destruction. Just in the same manner, when the
Israelites afterwards demanded a king to reign over them, God graciously
condescended to expostulate with them, and to warn them of the
consequences; but they persisted--and, therefore, ‘in his anger, he gave
them a king.’

“But the fatal influence of covetousness and ambition, which made Balaam
persist in desiring to go, soon led to his wishing to comply with
Balak’s desire to curse Israel. That he went with this secret design,
clearly appears from the angel’s saying, ‘Thy way is perverse before
me.’ So you see that God’s anger was now kindled, not at his going, but
because he went with a wicked intention. He was, however, suffered to
proceed on his journey, in order to convince the surrounding nations
that Balak’s cunning devices were useless in retarding the progress of
the Israelites, or in defeating the purposes of the ‘Most High who
ruleth in the kingdoms of men.’

“Balaam was afterwards also very blameable in offering sacrifice on
heathen altars, in the high places of Baal, which he must have been
aware was strictly prohibited.”

My uncle promised to take up this interesting subject again next Sunday;
but on our way to church he told me that these events happened in the
year 1451 B. C., and about two centuries and a half before the Trojan

_27th._--Frederick asked several questions this morning about the
worship of Baal, on which he had been pondering since our conversation

“Baal,” said my uncle, “was the same as Bel or Belus. The name signifies
Lord, and was originally applied to the Supreme Deity; but in
after-times, when idolatry became intermixed with the true religion,
several of the heathen gods, and particularly the sun, were worshipped
under that name. It was not only the general appellation of the sun
throughout the east, but it extended from thence over great part of the
western world; and many remnants of the worship of Baal, both names and
customs, are to be found at this day in the Hebrides and Western
Highlands. _Baal-tine_, for instance, as Hertford mentioned in one of
his letters, is an expression still in use--it means the fire of the
sun; and several other vestiges of solar worship may be also observed
there. The name given in Scripture to the temples of Baal signifies
those high places inclosed within walls in which a perpetual fire was

Frederick asked why groves and high places were so positively forbidden
in the Bible as places of worship? To this my uncle replied: “Because it
was usual for those idolatrous nations to place their temples and altars
in commanding situations, and to worship their false gods in the groves
which were formed on those consecrated hills. Such places were well
adapted to their mysterious rites, and the Israelites were enjoined to
break their images and cut down their groves; and were farther commanded
never to plant a grove near an altar dedicated to Jehovah. Peor, to
which Balak took Balaam, was the most famous high place in Moab; and it
was called Baalpeor, because there was a temple there dedicated to the
worship of Baal.”

I asked my uncle why they selected hills for places of worship?

“Some learned men,” said he, “have fancied that it was in commemoration
of the resting of the ark on the mountain of Ararat, where Noah
himself, immediately after the deluge, erected an altar and offered
burnt offerings as testimonies of praise and gratitude. Thus, as every
sanctified high place was supposed to represent Mount Ararat, so the
sacred groves were symbols of Paradise; gloomy caves became the
representatives of the floating ark of Noah; and even islands acquired a
sacred character, because the top of Mount Ararat had once been
surrounded by the sea.”

_28th._--Caroline and I have had a delightful walk to-day with my uncle,
to a wild rocky valley, where the hill on one side appears as if a part
had been violently torn away, and shews several layers, or _strata_, of
different substances in the cliff. He pointed it out as a good example
of stratification; and made us observe that the strata, though parallel
to each other, were not parallel to the horizon, but more or less
inclined to it. The angle of inclination between these strata and the
horizon is called their _dip_.

“Now,” said my uncle, “if the strata _dip_ in one direction, they must
_rise_ in the opposite direction; and if they continue to rise, that is,
if their course is not interrupted or bent down, they must gradually
approach the surface, and in some place or other they must shew
themselves there. Look at that well marked stratum of reddish stone in
the opposite cliff; though it is partially covered here and there by
vegetation, yet you can easily trace it as it slopes upwards, till you
see it actually arrive at the upper edge of the cliff. It is the same
with all the strata, which lie either above or below it: you see they
rise successively towards the surface; and if there be numerous other
strata under the valley, and which therefore we cannot see, still they
also will reach the surface further off. The place where any stratum
makes its appearance on the surface is called its _out-crop_; and as
they range themselves there in regular succession, you must at once
perceive that in examining the surface, in a direction crossing the
strata, you would find as complete a section of them as you now see in
the face of the cliff, or as you could obtain by boring perpendicularly
through them.”

He said a great deal more on this subject, and helped us to follow with
our eyes several other strata to their out-crop. “This circumstance,” he
added, “is of immense importance to the geologist; for if the strata
were all horizontal, we should be ignorant of everything below the mere
external crust of the earth. Sometimes, indeed, a deep well, or the
workings of a mine, might reveal the nature of the interior for a few
hundreds of feet or yards; whereas by examining the out-crop of the
inclined strata, we can ascertain not only their succession, but their
composition, for many miles in thickness. Another important consequence
of this inclined distribution of the strata, is the variety of minerals
which it enables mankind to obtain. If they were all horizontal, one
country would be all marble, another all coal; but by this beautiful
irregularity of nature, everything that is useful approaches the surface
some where or other, and puts itself within reach of the industry of

“Are all the strata, then, sloped at this useful angle of which you

“Oh no, Bertha,” my uncle replied; “they are inclined at every
conceivable angle, from perfect horizontality in some places, to a
vertical face in others.”

Caroline observed that even the strata at which we were looking did not
all appear to have the same dip, and wondered what could be the cause of
the difference. My uncle said she was quite right in the fact; the
strata at the eastern end of the valley had evidently a more sudden dip
than the rest. “But,” he continued, “it is to facts, my little
geologists, that we must at first confine ourselves: though causes and
theories are highly interesting, at present they would only bewilder
you. Those numerous strata, however, will afford some illustration of
what I told you a few days ago about _formations_. You see by the
frequent repetitions of the same substances in the cliff, that the same
strata are frequently repeated, and in the same order. When this order
is once known, the geologist is no longer perplexed by the number of
strata; each throws light upon the other, and the whole combination
receives the name of a _series_ or _formation_. By comparing several of
these series together, a resemblance in relation and position will be
observed between many of them, which will lead to a still greater
simplification of the different classes.”

My uncle then changed the conversation; we begged of him to go on with
his geology; but we could not persuade him; he said if we attempted to
remember too much, we should lose the whole. “Will you then give us a
little lecture on it every day?”

“I will with great pleasure occasionally converse on the subject with
both of you, my dear children,” said he; “and in our walks, or whenever
a proper opportunity occurs, I will endeavour to give you a few general
ideas of the structure of the globe. Hereafter we may perhaps enter more
minutely into the details of the science, and then it will be time
enough to talk of daily lectures.”

_March 1st._--My dear mamma has often laughed at me for my love of
little coincidences; and I have now a new one to tell her. I very lately
mentioned in my journal some remarks, made by Dr. Walker of Edinburgh,
on the seasons of the flowering of foreign plants; and this morning my
uncle happened to see in the newspaper the following extract from an
address to the Agricultural Society of St. Helena by General Walker, who
is the son of that ingenious doctor. My uncle desired me to read it, and
said that these speculations are very useful to inquiring minds; they
furnish hints, and they naturally lead to new experiments, which elicit
new facts.

“The functions of plants, as well as animals, depend on the air in which
they live. I have observed that those of St. Helena which have been
brought from another hemisphere, are very irregular in their annual
progress; many of them, in the developement of their foliage, have
adopted the law of nature peculiar to the country into which they have
been transplanted--others, more obstinate, remain faithful to their
former habits, and continue to follow the stated changes to which they
had been accustomed. They all appear to maintain a struggle either
before they adopt the habits which belong to the seasons of their new
country, or decide on retaining their relations with the old. In
yielding to external circumstances, they appear to have different

“This is often observed in plants of the same species appearing to
hesitate before they adopt the mode of performing their functions. And
when their decision is made, we are at a loss to discover an adequate
cause. For instance, an oak raised from English seed, loses its leaves
in a St. Helena winter of 68°; yet it experiences nothing like the
difference of temperature, which, by analogy, might be supposed to cause
that change.

“It would add to the natural history of vegetation, and improve our
knowledge of the geography of plants, were the facts concerning their
habits and changes, under different temperatures, carefully collected.”

_2nd._--Miss Perceval, with whom I recollect you used to wish me to be
acquainted, has come to spend a few weeks here; and I shall now not only
have the pleasure of knowing a person you like, but of taking many a
botanising walk with her as the Spring advances. She seems very gentle,
and so unwilling to put herself forward, that my uncle is obliged to
reproach her for withholding the stores of knowledge which she
possesses; and he generally leads the conversation to such subjects as
will make her display them a little, in spite of her diffidence.

She disclaims all over-modesty, but says that such has been the progress
of knowledge within the last ten years, and so greatly has it become
diffused through all classes, and particularly amongst females, that she
feels that almost everybody knows as much as she does; besides, she
added, “I have lived so completely out of the world of late, that I
have really much more to learn than to teach.”

She speaks of you, dear mamma, as of an old and valued friend; and I
think she will be kind to me for your sake.

_4th._--Miss Perceval has been so much interested by a letter which my
aunt received yesterday from her friend in Upper Canada, that she
petitioned for some of her former letters; and my aunt has permitted me
also to see them, and to make some extracts for you, dear mamma.

During their progress in open boats up the St. Lawrence, Mrs. * * * soon
began to feel the hardships of a Canada life; she and her family
generally preferred sleeping on fresh hay, the beds at the inns were so
full of vermin. Sometimes they even slept on the ground, sheltered from
the night air only by an awning;--and more than once in their open boat
under a heavy dew. She speaks of the farmers with great gratitude;
whenever she stopped at their houses she was received with the kindest
hospitality, and her children plentifully supplied with milk and good
bread. Throughout her journal, which I wish you could read, and in all
her letters, there is the most amiable disposition to make the best of
everything, and to enjoy whatever little comfort she could find in her
situation, without looking back on her former very different life. In
October they settled at the town of Cobourg, near Lake Ontario, as a
temporary residence while a house was building for them on the land they
had obtained. She describes her house thus:--

                                                    “_Cobourg, Oct 30._

     “There are three rooms on the ground floor, and four above, but
     they are so small they are like little closets; we contrive,
     however, to squeeze into them, and though we shall be here two
     months, we can easily reconcile ourselves to these little

     “There is a nice grassy place in front of the house, it is paled
     in, and the children can play in it with safety: that is one great
     comfort. We found some boards in the barn, and Mr. * * *, whose old
     tastes as an amateur mechanic are now very useful, has made
     temporary shelves and tables of them. We have at present neither
     table, chair, nor bedstead, the carriage of these articles was too
     expensive for us; but we have screws and all things ready, to make
     them when we are settled in our loghouse, for which I long as
     ardently as if it was a palace.

     “Our bed-rooms have no doors, but we hang up blankets, which answer
     the purpose. Fortunately we have plenty of these, and the air is so
     dry that we do not suffer from the cold, though the nights are
     frosty, and not a fire-place in the house, except that in the
     kitchen. The frost has given the woods a grey look, instead of the
     beautiful orange autumnal tints they had before.

     “Four years ago there were but two houses here; now it is a nice
     thriving town, with a neat church, a large school-house, and some
     very good shops, or _stores_, as they are called; and the houses
     are in general very neat.

     “We have been visited by several respectable families. There is a
     gentleman here who was for twenty-five years engaged in the
     North-west, or fur trade, and during that time he never once
     returned to his family. He had left home at the age of thirteen,
     and underwent all kinds of adventures and hardships.--One winter,
     when their provisions fell short, he and his companions were
     obliged to eat their leather aprons, and even the leather of their

     “_Cobourg, Jan. 1st._--We have been detained here longer than we
     intended; first by the illness of my eldest girl, and next, waiting
     for snow to make the roads fit for travelling; at present they are
     in such a state of roughness from the hard frost after the heavy
     rains of last month, that the jolting of either cart or waggon
     could not be borne. There are no covered carriages here. In winter,
     _sleighs_ (sledges) are used, or waggons, which are neither very
     nice nor easy. They are very roughly made, with two seats placed
     across, one before the other, and have rather an odd appearance
     for gentlemen’s _carriages_.

     “This new year’s day, I hope you are all as well and happy as I am;
     and I am sure it will give you pleasure to know, my beloved
     friends, that we could indulge ourselves by going to church on
     Christmas-day, and receiving the sacrament. Do not imagine that in
     this banishment, as I fear you still consider it, these duties are
     neglected; far from it; we have a church near us, and I thank God,
     the inclination to make use of it.”

_5th, Sunday._--The subject of Balaam was continued this morning; and I
took an opportunity of asking the meaning of the word _parable_, as it
is used in Numbers xxiii. 7.

“It has more significations than one,” said my uncle, “in both the Old
and the New Testaments. It sometimes implies that sort of address to the
people, which, from its tone of authority as well as from its elevated
language, seems to have been the effect of inspiration. Thus Balaam is
said to have taken up his parable, when, contrary to his own wishes and
in a style approaching to poetry, he uttered his sublime prophecies. The
Psalmist also, after saying, ‘I will open my mouth in a parable,’ gives
a rapid, but magnificent sketch of the wonders that God performed for
the children of Israel. Secondly, we find it applied in the Greek
Septuagint (1 Kings, iv. 32.) to those short sententious sayings of
Solomon, which in the English version are called proverbs. And in
Ecclesiasticus, our translators have rendered the same Hebrew word in
some places by “parables,” and in others by “wise sentences.” Thirdly,
in the Gospel it is used in the sense of an apologue or fable; a mode of
conveying instruction, or of explaining certain doctrines, which our
Lord thought proper to adopt; and which had been frequently employed by
the Prophets in the Old Testament.

“It was in the first of these three senses,” continued my uncle, “that
Balaam appears to have taken up his parable. Having stated why he had
come to Moab, and having confessed that he could not curse those whom
God had not cursed, he immediately prophesies the increase and power of
Israel. ‘Lo, this people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned
among the nations.’ Had he not been inspired, how could he, on a distant
view of a people he had never seen before, have discovered the
peculiarities which distinguished the Israelites and their posterity to
the latest ages? Their religion and government were then unknown; yet he
foretold their entire separation from all other nations; and the present
state of the Jews, and all history, confirm the truth of his

I asked my uncle why Balak desired the prophet to go with him to
_another_ place to curse them?

My uncle said, “that it was the opinion of the heathens, that if one
victim failed, or if the Deity was unpropitious at one place, he should
be importuned by a repetition of the sacrifice elsewhere. Balaam,
therefore, to gratify the king, repeated the same experiment a second
and a third time; but still with the same disappointment.”

Caroline made some remark on these words, “He hath as it were the
strength of the Unicorn;” and my uncle said, “it is not known with
certainty to what animal the strength of Israel is here compared; some
have supposed the unicorn to be a kind of single-horned antelope, others
think that it is the rhinoceros; but if any of you will remind me of the
subject some other day, we will endeavour to see which is the best
founded opinion. Balaam afterwards compares the power of Israel to that
of the lion; and both seem to allude to the victories by which the
Israelites should gain possession of the land of Canaan. It is
remarkable, that the inspired language of Balaam very much resembles
that which Jacob had used in his predictions respecting Judah. Such is
the harmony and connexion between the prophecies of Scripture.”

_6th._--We were resolved not to defer the subject of the unicorn; and
this morning we began by searching for as much light on the subject as
our books could give us, that we might be the better qualified to
discuss it with my uncle.

I found in Perceval’s Cape of Good Hope, that notwithstanding all the
assertions he had heard of the existence of this animal in Southern
Africa, he never met any person who had seen one. A horn, nearly three
feet long, was indeed shewn him, as being that of the unicorn, but it
evidently belonged to a large species of antelope. My uncle afterwards
told us, that there is an antelope of this kind in the mountains of
India, which the natives used to pretend had only a single horn; but
since the conquest of Nepaul, those mountains have been visited by
English officers, who have seen the animal alive with both its horns.

Frederick produced Mr. Barrow’s description of a drawing he had seen at
the Cape, representing a single horn projecting from the forehead of an
animal, which he says, resembles a horse, with an elegantly shaped body,
marked, from the shoulders to the flanks, with longitudinal stripes or

Mary had collected a great many facts about the rhinoceros; and she made
it appear pretty clearly, that the allusion in Scripture to the strength
and untameableness of the unicorn, are much more applicable to the
rhinoceros than to any species of antelope, all of which are remarkably
deficient in strength, and naturally timid. She found in some book, that
the derivation of the Scripture name _Reem_, both in the Hebrew and the
Ethiopic, implies erectness; and though the rhinoceros is by no means a
very erect animal, yet his horn certainly is so, as it stands
perpendicular to the face; and in that respect, it differs from the
horns of all other animals. “The upright direction of the horn,” Mary
said, “as well as the power and fierceness of the rhinoceros, would
equally justify the metaphor in the Psalms, ‘my horn shalt thou exalt
like the horn of a unicorn.’”

Caroline then brought forward her authorities to prove, that in
Abyssinia the name of the rhinoceros signifies the beast with _the
horn_, implying that it has but one; whereas, in Nubia, the name
expresses _horn upon horn_. But as the Septuagint translates the word
_reem_ into _monoceros_ or unicorn, we may suppose that if the
rhinoceros had always two horns, the writers of the Septuagint, who
probably must have seen the animal at Alexandria, at the exhibition
given by Ptolemy Philadelphus, would not have called it monoceros.

We proceeded with our gleanings to my uncle, who seemed pleased with our
industry. He observed, that notwithstanding the translation in the
Septuagint, it was not quite certain that the reem or unicorn of the
Hebrew Scriptures was always mentioned there as having but one horn; and
he pointed out a passage in Deuteronomy, where horns in the plural are
distinctly expressed. “But,” said my uncle, “it is classed with the
behemoth and leviathan, which are supposed to be the elephant and
crocodile, and the savage rhinoceros seems to be a more suitable
companion to those huge and terrific creatures than the delicate
antelope. Every body knows that there are two species of that animal,
the R. unicornis, and the R. bicornis; and that the latter is only found
in certain parts of Africa. The former, or one-horned species, is common
not only in Abyssinia but all over Asia, and in Arabia is called by the
name of _reem_, to the present day. Why then should we doubt that this
untamed and destructive animal, which, in every respect, answers to the
description in Scripture, should be the unicorn mentioned there; and
having a horn, or horns, according to the different countries where the
allusion was made?”

My uncle then shewed us Sparrman’s account of the two-horned rhinoceros,
which he killed and dissected at the Cape. The longest horn, which is
close to the nose, measured about eighteen inches in length, and seven
in diameter. The uppermost horn was much smaller, and much worn, and the
Hottentots told the Doctor, that these animals had the power of turning
the long horn aside out of the way, while they employed the other in
rooting up the plants on which they feed. But my uncle does not believe
that there is any truth in this assertion.

_7th._--I have just had a little geological lecture, and hasten to write
the substance while it is fresh in my memory.

In examining the materials of which our great mineral masses are
composed, we are immediately struck by the difference of the _older
formations_, which proceeded from causes that have long ceased to
operate, and those _newer_ formations, the causes of which are still at
work under our own observation.

Compared with the former, these recent formations are of very limited
extent; they consist of the sand and stones that are accumulated on the
sea coast by tides and currents; of the land washed away from one bank
of a river, and thrown up on the opposite bank by the winding stream; of
the earth and gravel, and fragments of rock, carried down by all rivers,
and forming deposits at their mouths; and of the constant increase of
marsh land, in consequence of the growth of aquatic plants. All these
appear to have proceeded uninterruptedly from the period when our
continents assumed their present form, and may be all designated by the
general term _alluvial_. There are vast alluvial formations at the
mouths of the Ganges, the Nile, the Mississippi, the Amazons, and other
great rivers; and an evident change has been effected by these means in
many sea-coast countries, of which there are innumerable instances.

The overflowing of the Rhine, the Arno, and the Po, formerly dispersed
the soil they carried down over the neighbouring land; but ever since it
has been confined within dykes, their deposits have not only elevated
the beds of these rivers, but are also rapidly pushing forward their
mouths into the sea. The low alluvial plains through which they run were
themselves produced by ancient deposits; and the progress of this
continually increasing formation may be easily estimated from various
historic records. From Strabo we learn that Ravenna was situated, in the
time of Augustus, at the head of a bay connected with the Adriatic, and
that it had then a good harbour; yet it is now three miles from the
coast. By comparing the old maps with the present state of the Duchy of
Ferrara, which is flooded annually by the Po, it appears that the coast
has gained from the sea 14,000 yards in breadth since the year 1604,
giving an average of sixty yards for its advance per annum. And the town
of Adria, which in ancient times was a sea-port, is now sixteen miles

The same causes have produced similar effects along the branches of the
Rhine and Maëse; and for many leagues from their mouths the country
exhibits the singular spectacle of having its largest rivers held up by
dykes at the height of twenty or thirty feet above the level of the
land. The alluvial depositions on the north coasts of Friesland and
Groningen, and the increase of land which they have effected, are very
considerable: the first dykes were formed in 1570; and in only one
hundred years afterwards, the deposits had accumulated to the extent of
nearly three miles on the outside of the dykes. A large part of the
United Provinces has thus been actually formed by materials washed down
from the interior of Germany; and many populous cities now stand where
the sea once rolled its waves.

_8th._--Of the various buds which are beginning to open, none advance so
rapidly as those of the peach blossoms. On the 14th of February I first
observed a little streak of red at the tops of a few; they are now quite
opened, and looked very pretty last week, when the ground was slightly
covered with snow.

I must tell you a curious thing about buds. Early in January we had some
little branches and twigs of several trees brought in, that we might see
the state of the buds; and I put a few into a jug of water in my room,
that I might examine them at leisure. Very soon afterwards, I perceived
that the buds were beginning to swell; their scales gradually separated,
and now there are some horse-chestnut leaves quite opened out, and
displaying the beautiful manner in which they, and the embryo flower,
were folded up and preserved within those scaly cases in the winter. I
thought it very extraordinary that they should have been supported
merely by water; but my uncle says that the principal nourishment of all
plants is derived from water. The famous botanist Du Hamel reared an oak
tree for eight years in water only; and a willow planted by Van Helmont
in a pot, increased fifty pounds in weight in five years, though the
earth, which had been accurately weighed, was only diminished by two

In my collection of branches there were some of lilac and of pear; and
on each of these, the buds, which were hard, little greenish knobs when
first put in the water, have now burst open and disclosed their cluster
of miniature flower-buds.

We have all been most philosophically employed in dissecting and
examining leaf-buds of various trees: for my own part, I think that I
can distinctly see in most of them, that they proceed from the wood; and
in some I could plainly trace the little communication that connects the
wood and the bud. But my uncle says we must continue to study this
subject for years before we can venture to form a decided opinion.

I intend to keep my branches in water as long as possible, that I may
see what happens at last. On the living trees out of doors no leaf-bud
has yet attempted to unfold its scales.

_9th._--As we walked in the sheltered kitchen-garden this stormy day,
Miss Perceval remarked what an alteration soil, climate, and culture can
produce in the external characters of plants; and for remarkable
instances of this, she says, we need not go farther than the

“There,” she said, “we find cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brocoli, and
turnip-rooted cabbage; but who could ever imagine that all these were
from the same original species? Nothing, however, is more certain than
that they are all varieties produced by the cultivation of a plant which
grows wild on the sea-shores of Europe, and which, in its external
appearance, is as different from any of those, as they are from each
other. These alterations become so strongly fixed by habit, that they
continue in the plants that spring from the seeds of each variety; they
are liable, however, again to degenerate into each other; and it is only
by the art of gardening that they are preserved distinct, or that fresh
varieties are produced.”

Miss Perceval made me examine the several young crops of cabbage of
different kinds which had been sown at short intervals, during February
and the beginning of March, that they might be ready for use in
succession; and I find that, although she is such a great botanist, she
does not at all despise the knowledge of garden vegetables and of their
cultivation. Indeed, she says, that it is being but half a botanist, not
to have a general knowledge of all the useful vegetables, with the
principles of their cultivation, and their times and seasons.

Among the few plots of cabbage now in leaf, we found some rows of the
large-ribbed species, in which there appeared to be several varieties;
and in trying to make out the differences, I perceived an odd tail or
appendage to some of the leaves. When I made Miss P. take notice of it,
she was surprised, and said she had never before observed a similar
circumstance in the growth of any cabbages. This curious appendage,
which grows from the back of the principal rib, in its substance is like
the foot-stalk of the leaves; and at the end it dilates into a sort of
hollow cup like a funnel, with something of the appearance of the
_nepenthes_, or pitcher plant.

_11th._--I asked my uncle, after dinner what were those older causes,
which he told us had produced such infinitely greater changes in the
structure of the earth’s surface than any that are now going on.

“The more you learn,” he replied, “of the structure of the earth, and of
the prodigious thickness of the strata, which once must have lain
horizontally, and which have been since torn up and thrown into every
angle of inclination, the more readily you will form an idea of the
stupendous power with which that cause must have operated. The changes
which are now in constant progress are very limited in their effects,
and are entirely confined to the surface. The action of frost in
crumbling the rocky tops of the mountains; and of rivers in carrying the
fragments to the sea, and thus altering the outline of the coasts, I
have already mentioned. Considerable changes are also produced by
avalanches, by inundations, and by the unceasing action of the waves of
the sea. But these changes are slow, and can never be very extensive.
“The effect of volcanoes is greater; and, though many countries bear the
traces of having been overflowed by vast torrents of lava, they are now
confined to a comparatively small portion of the globe. But if they were
far more numerous or extensive, volcanoes could not have raised up or
overthrown the strata through which their apertures pass, still less
could they have acted upon those immense regions which are not
volcanic. The mind, indeed, is lost in astonishment at the means
employed by nature in feeding these enormous fires from such prodigious
depths; but still we must perceive how inadequate they are to account
for the revolutions which appear to have shaken the earth to its
foundations. The same reasoning applies to earthquakes; their
consequences are awfully great in the adjacent country, but very far
from being equal to explain the subversions which appear to have
occurred in every corner of the world that has been visited.

“In short, all the greatest possible efforts of those causes that can be
supposed to have taken place since the creation, cannot have inverted
the strata, nor inclosed great quadrupeds in solid stone, nor imbedded
bones, shells, and vegetables, in the middle of compact rocks, nor have
deposited complete strata of shell-fish at the tops of the highest
mountains; nor could they have swept away whole species of animals which
once inhabited the earth; causes, which evidently extend through a
limited space, and whose effects are only partial, could never have
operated throughout the globe, to produce the general and amazing
changes that we observe in all parts of it. To produce such a universal
effect, the cause must have been not only powerful, but general.

“Sacred history alone furnishes us with the knowledge of this general
and powerful cause--the Deluge. What physical means Providence employed
to produce this great convulsion, have not been revealed to us, but that
the whole globe must have been involved in its fury is everywhere
apparent. The former bed of the ocean must have been lifted up; former
continents must have been sunk; and the entire crust of the earth must
have been rent, shattered, and tossed into every variety of position.”

_12th, Sunday._--‘And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his

“The place alluded to here,” said my uncle, “was his own country,
Mesopotamia. His prophecies having been delivered, the design of heaven
was answered, and the instrument was thrown aside. The wicked Balaam was
now left to pursue the schemes of his ambition; and they were intended
to be as destructive to the Israelites as if he had even succeeded in
cursing them. Josephus tells us, that Balaam informed the king that he
could never subdue the Israelites, unless they should be disobedient to
their God; and he instructed him how to make them so. This seems to be
confirmed in Sacred History by Moses, who says that Balaam ‘caused the
Israelites to commit trespass against the Lord,’ and also by St. John,
in the second chapter of Revelations. The consequence was a severe
plague which was inflicted on them as a punishment, and which swept off
many thousand people.

“The history of this obdurate Prophet furnishes a deplorable instance of
the weakness of the human heart, and of the obstinacy with which it
clings to sinful passions, in spite of the most solemn warnings. Balaam
could not forego the tempting offer of Balak, nor the allurements of his
own ambition: after having been refused permission to go to that king,
and after having been obliged to bless the people instead of cursing
them, he endeavoured, by his mischievous counsel, to seduce the
Israelites into idolatry. He expressed indeed a hope of dying the death
of the righteous, but for that purpose he should have lived the life of
the righteous. He was cut off by the avenging sword; and his end
furnishes an awful example of the gradual progress of sin, and proves
that extraordinary ‘gifts of the Spirit’ are not always accompanied by
the genuine ‘fruits of the Spirit.’ When we possess extraordinary
talents, or any peculiar gifts from Providence, we should consider them
as so many temptations or trials, and pray the more humbly and
strenuously for assistance to use them virtuously.”

My uncle then explained that to tempt, is an old English word, which
signifies to try; it is frequently so used in all our old works, as
well as in the Bible. The forty years’ temptation in the wilderness
evidently means trial. Forty years long did I tempt and prove thee--that
is, did I try thee. Again, in the text, “to take him a nation from
amidst another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders,” Deut.
iv. 34. The word “temptations” is undoubtedly put for trials; for the
miracles wrought in Egypt were real trials both to the Egyptians and to
the Israelites, who were thereby given the alternative of obedience, or
of obstinate resistance. And St. Paul repeatedly tells us, that even
good men are allowed to fall into _trying_ circumstances, for the
exercise and improvement of their virtue.

_13th._--My aunt has been shewing me various species of the aphis

There are two distinct sorts which belong to the plum tree, one of a
yellowish green, with a round short body; the other oblong, of a bluish
green, enamelled with white. The same kinds are found on the gooseberry
and currant; and the rose tree supports three distinct species.

There are some amusing circumstances told of the singular friendship
that appears to subsist between these little animals and ants, with whom
they share the honey they obtain, and are in return assisted and
protected. I met this morning with an entertaining account of these
facts in the Dialogues on Entomology, which my aunt lent me last month.

There is another species called the oak puceron, which bury themselves
in the crevices of the bark when it is a little separated from the wood,
and live at their ease on the sap. They are black, and nearly as large
as a common house-fly. Their trunk is twice the length of their bodies,
and it holds so fast by the wood, that, when pulled away, it frequently
brings a small piece along with it. Ants are so fond of this species of
puceron, that they are the surest guides where to find it; for whenever
we see a number of ants upon an oak, and all creeping into one cleft of
the bark, we may be certain, my aunt says, of finding quantities of oak
pucerons there.

Mary, two or three days ago, raised the turf in different places in a
dry pasture field, and shewed me clusters of ants gathered about some
large grey pucerons. My aunt says that these earth pucerons draw the
juices from the roots of plants, as the other species do from the stem
and branches. It is imagined by some people, that they are only the
common pucerons, which in winter creep into the earth to shelter
themselves: but this is not the case, as they are usually met with in
places distant from the trees or plants on which they might before have
fed. And she says, that though many may be killed by the cold, yet
numbers escape, and are found early in spring, sucking the buds of the
peach and other trees.

_14th._--I have not yet found the least difficulty in comprehending what
my uncle tells us in our geological conversations. This is partly owing
to the clearness with which he teaches; and partly to my immediately
writing down the substance of it for you. The habit of writing this
journal has been indeed of very great use to me, and I have to thank
you, dear mamma, for desiring me to do it. I am afraid Marianne will not
be much interested as yet by the present subject, for want of my uncle’s
explanations; but when I am once more with you and her, I will try to
give her at full length the details of what he has told us; and I am
sure that she will then like it for his sake.

We have just had another little chapter on the changes in the globe. My
uncle said, that extraordinary as the changes on its surface appear, yet
when we have an opportunity of penetrating a little into the interior by
means of deep mines, or of viewing a long section of the strata in
cliffs or on bare mountains, then our ideas expand into a clearer
conception of the extent and grandeur of its ancient revolutions. In
examining the more elevated chains of mountains, or in following the
beds of their torrents, we can perceive somewhat of its interior
structure thus laid open to us.

The low and level parts of the earth, when penetrated to a great depth,
generally exhibit parallel strata, composed of various substances, and
most of them containing vegetable and animal, and innumerable marine
productions. Similar strata, with the same kind of productions, compose
the hills even to a great height; and sometimes the shells are so
numerous, that an entire stratum seems to be formed of them. These
shells are frequently in such perfect preservation, that they retain
their sharpest ridges, and their tenderest forms. They are sometimes
found incrusted in hard stone, and sometimes inclosed in loose sand or
clay; and the nicest comparison cannot detect any difference between the
texture of these shells, and those which now inhabit the sea. It is,
therefore, fair to conclude, that they also must have formerly lived in
the sea, and, consequently, that the sea must once have flowed over
those places.

But we must not forget that in some countries none of these remains
occur, for instance, in Cornwall, and the highlands of Scotland; while
in others, not a well can be sunk, or a pit opened, without presenting
them in abundance; as in the south-eastern counties of England. The
reason of this difference will, I am sure, have suggested itself, if you
recollect our former conversations: Cornwall is composed of the lowest
series of rocks, which are therefore called primitive; and they, you
know, must be entirely destitute of organic remains. The next series
contains them very sparingly, but they abound in the three succeeding
series, or what are called the _secondary formations_; though sometimes
there are beds interposed, in which they are still rare. In examining
these organic remains, the skill of the botanist and zoologist has
discovered that several of the plants and animals are entirely different
from any with which we are at present acquainted; and a vast field of
inquiry has thus been opened in those departments of nature.

I asked my uncle whether these remains are regularly distributed through
the whole of those series in which they are so numerous. He likes that I
should ask him questions; he says it doubles his pleasure in giving
information, when he sees people really alive to what he tells them.

He replied, that, in one respect, the regularity is surprising, for they
are found, as it were, in families; each formation containing a
collection of species often peculiar to itself, and differing widely
from those of the adjoining one; so that at any two points, in similar
formations, however distant, we are sure of meeting the same general
assemblage of fossil remains. For instance, if the fossils found in the
chalk of Flamborough Head in Yorkshire, or in the cliffs of Dover, or
even in Poland, or Paris, be examined, eight or nine species out of ten
will be found to be the same. Again, if collections of fossils from the
_carboniferous_ limestone, of any of the above places, are compared,
they will be found to agree in the same manner with each other: but if
you compare the collection from the chalk, with that from the limestone,
you would not find one single instance of agreement; indeed very few
appearances of it that could deceive even your unpractised eye.”

“I wish, uncle, I could make these curious comparisons with my own

“So you shall, my dear Bertha. I have a few specimens of remarkable
fossils, though I have no regular collection; and when we reach home, I
will endeavour to shew you some instances of these facts, as they
interest you and Caroline so much.”

_15th._--I have made another extract from the Canada letters for my dear

                                            _“Loghouse, February 24th._

     “Here we are at last; and though we must bear a good deal of
     inconvenience for some time, yet we feel all the enjoyment of being
     really _at home_.

     “On Monday morning, Feb. 10, we left Cobourg, Mr. * * * * and I on
     one seat, with a little girl between us; the maid and the other
     two children on the seat before us, and our charioteer in front. We
     had blankets and cloaks to roll about our feet, and a basket of
     cold meat and bread. Another sleigh carried our bedding, trunks,
     and luggage, besides baskets of poultry and our two dogs.

     “We travelled twenty miles that day very pleasantly; passing
     through miles and miles of forest. I was delighted with this new
     scene. Every now and then, we came to small _clearings_, with
     loghouses, and generally with a good stock of cattle and poultry.

     “At four o’clock, we reached the inn; and we passed the night there
     very comfortably, sleeping on the floor in the sitting-room, where
     we spread our mattresses and blankets.

     “Next day, our road lay through thick woods; indeed, it scarcely
     deserved that name, for it was merely a track through the snow
     where other sleighs had lately passed. We turned backwards and
     forwards through the crowded trees, and often had showers of snow
     from branches which our heads touched: the boughs of the beautiful
     hemlock pine were so loaded with it, and bent down so low, that we
     were obliged to lie down, to pass under them; and twice we were
     obliged to stop and cut a passage where trees had fallen across the
     way. We drove for nine miles through woods without seeing any
     habitation, except two Indian huts.

     “When we arrived at the banks of the river, near the mills, we
     found that the ice had given way, so that the sleighs could not
     cross; and the miller’s boat could not ply, because there was still
     a broad border of ice on each side of the river. We sent a man
     across to beg of our friend Mr. ----, who was settled there, to send
     his oxen and sleigh to a part of the river called the Little Lake,
     two miles lower down; and we determined to walk across. This delay
     was very embarrassing, but our travels were nearly at an end, and
     that gave us spirits to proceed with vigour through the snow, which
     came far above our ancles. The friends who came from the opposite
     side to meet us, carried the two youngest children; the workmen
     carried our bedding, and every thing else was left at the mills.
     With this assistance we contrived to cross, and being soon packed
     into the sleigh, we proceeded in the shades of evening to our home,
     through nearly five miles of wood. Our loghouse was quite
     illuminated by the glare of the fires which had been prepared for
     us, and even if there had been no fire, we must have been warmed by
     the joy our friend shewed at seeing us here.

     “The house was not quite finished, and we found it rather cold at
     night; but every day since we have made it more and more
     comfortable. Our books fill up one side of the parlour, and give it
     a comfortable look; and as it has two windows, one to the south,
     and one to the west, we have now the delightful warm sun shining in
     from ten till past five.

     “This is really a pretty spot--even now, though the ground is
     covered with snow. The river is broad, and rushes by with great
     noise and rapidity, carrying down lumps of ice from the lake; it
     winds beautifully, and the banks are fringed with fine spreading
     cedars and lofty hemlock pines.

     “We have been most prosperous in everything, voyage, journey, and
     health; and when I look back and think of all we have gone through
     since you and I parted, I cannot help feeling surprise, mixed with
     gratitude, to that merciful Being, who has watched over us and
     protected us all.”

_16th._--I was talking to Mary after dinner, about the ant and the
little puceron, and praising their mutual good feeling; but she said
there were very few instances of such friendship among insects, and a
great many of their hostility to each other. She mentioned the following
fact, which will, I think, amuse Marianne.

The _pierce-bois_, or wood-boring bee, an inhabitant of warm countries,
and distinguished by her beautiful violet wings, is remarkable for
boring long cylindrical cells in decayed trees, or even in window
frames. She first bores obliquely into the wood with her strong
mandibles, and then follows the direction of the fibres, forming a hole
or tunnel of more than a foot in length, and half an inch in diameter.
At the inner end of this pipe she deposits an egg, along with a
sufficient store of honey and farina, for the support of her future
offspring; and covering it with a thin partition, made of the particles
of wood she had scooped out and cemented together with wax, she proceeds
to deposit another egg and another supply of provision; and so on till
the whole pipe is full. I must also tell you, that from the innermost
cell she had previously bored a small channel to the outside of the
wood, as a kind of back door, by which the young produced from the first
laid eggs should escape in succession, each of them instinctively
piercing the partition in the right direction. But now, mamma, for my
fact: there is a small species of beetle that watches the operations of
the bee, and slily deposits its egg also in the cell. If this egg should
escape the vigilance of the poor bee, it is hatched into a larva before
her own eggs, and consuming all the food she had so industriously
prepared, the right owner of the dwelling perishes.

The wood-boring-bee reminded my uncle of the _teredo_ or ship-worm,
which destroys the planks on ships’ bottoms, by piercing them in all
directions; and he told us that the ingenious Mr. Brunel had himself
stated to a friend of his, that it was from the operations of this worm
that he had borrowed the method which has been adopted in forming the
tunnel under the Thames.

Mr. Brunel observed that the teredo’s head is covered with a strong
armour, through a little hole in which it perforates the wood first in
one direction and then in another, till the arched way is complete; when
it daubs both roof and sides with a kind of varnish. In like manner, Mr.
B. conducts his operations in the tunnel; removing the ground in front,
through the small apertures of a strong iron frame, which he calls the
_shield_, in imitation of the teredo’s armour; and then constructing a
circular arch of brick-work, with strong cement, so as to resist the
utmost pressure of the water. The shield is then moved forward nine
inches (the length of a brick), a fresh ring of brick-work is built, and
a fresh portion of ground is excavated.

This curious anecdote led to another of the same nature, an ingenious
contrivance borrowed from a lobster’s tail. On the other side of the
Clyde, opposite the city of Glasgow, there was abundance of fine water,
which it was desirable to convey across the river for the use of the
inhabitants; but so as not to interfere with the shipping, and not to be
contaminated with the salt water. Mr. Watt, the celebrated engineer,
undertook to carry it in iron pipes fitted one into the other like the
joints of a lobster’s tail, so that when laid across the river they
should adapt themselves to the form of the bottom. He perfectly
succeeded; these flexible pipes have been in use for twenty years, and
the inhabitants have been admirably supplied with this necessary of
life, through that great man’s happy power of observation.

_17th._--My aunt has been very unwell for the last three days; she is
now recovering, but still requires constant care. My cousins are most
assiduous and tender nurses. They are attentive, without being
officious, and they arrange the time of their attendance, so as to
permit each to have some leisure for her own daily occupations. This
gratifies my aunt particularly; I have frequently heard her say, that it
is a duty of those who attend on the sick to be as cheerful as possible,
and that nothing contributes to cheerfulness so much as employment. She
thinks it no proof whatever of real sensibility, to lay aside all one’s
usual pursuits because a friend or relation is ill; it only weakens the
mind, and produces on the countenance that expression of anxiety which
distresses or alarms the patient.

I do not know exactly what my aunt’s illness has been--her eyes have
been so much affected, that she has been condemned for some time to
total idleness, and hitherto she has not been permitted to listen to
much reading or even conversation. I should have thought that a person
who is so active in general, would have been doubly sensible of the
weight of idle time. But her mind has such various stores of knowledge,
deep and light, that she never can be in want of novelties to employ it;
to-day I was allowed to stay with her for some time, and she repeated to
me some beautiful moral reflections, as well as some lighter poetical
compositions on which she had employed her mind last night. It is thus
she beguiles the wakeful hours, and habituates herself to think more
slightly of the sufferings which she sometimes endures.

_19th, Sunday._--My dear aunt is certainly much better.--By her desire I
was permitted to take care of her while the rest of the family went to
church; and I was thus left sole guardian of this good patient, so
precious to us all.

Immediately after they went away, she fell into a gentle slumber, and as
I had not provided myself with a book, and was fearful of disturbing her
by walking to the book-case, I sat quietly near the bed, so that I could
watch her. For want of other employment I amused myself with comparing
my former with my present life; and though on the whole they are very
different, there is one point, dear mamma, in which they are perfectly
similar--for the friends I am now with are, just like you, really and
rationally religious. My reverie over, I repeated to myself some of our
favourite sacred poetry, among which was Mrs. Barbauld’s address to the
Deity. I then tried to recollect the various religious books I had read
since I came here; and afterwards I endeavoured to arrange the knowledge
which I had acquired not only from them but from my uncle’s

While I was engaged in these reflections, my aunt awoke, and having
taken her medicine, she desired me to read to her some of the Old and
New Testament; and then, as she insisted on it, I went out for a short
time, leaving her maid in the room.

My mind, of course, dwelt on that good and amiable aunt, to whom I owe
so much; and every turn I made in the garden brought me to some object
that reminded me of the kind things she had said to me in our walks, and
the many opportunities she had taken of giving my mind a right
direction. Her religion is always cheerful, and she has the art of
introducing little useful reflections into common conversation, so as to
double the impression they make. Just where I was then sauntering, she
had said to me only a few hours before she was taken ill, “You see that
the embryo plant contained in this seed will not vegetate without heat
and moisture--and so, my dear niece, our good dispositions, whatever
they may be, will wither away without the continual help of Him who is
ever ready to assist us, and to open our minds to the high views of a
future state which He has set before us; nor, Bertha, can it be
considered one whit more wonderful that we should hereafter change into
a life of immortality, than that the larva should burst into a beautiful
butterfly, or that these little black seeds should expand into luxuriant
foliage, and deck their branches with splendid flowers.”

The wind had been very high all that morning, and many broken branches
were scattered about the shrubbery: my aunt seemed to delight in the
“wild music of the wind-swept grove;” and as we sheltered ourselves from
the blast, she pointed out to me the numbers of minute insects that were
enjoying their short day of existence, unmindful of its terrors; and the
birds that were struggling through it with materials for their nests;
and the bees who could scarcely withstand its power, yet were urged on
by their instinctive industry to begin their winter’s store. “How that
hoarse storm,” she exclaimed, “and all these tokens of the opening
spring, remind one of the Almighty power and benevolence!”

I immediately quoted the well known line,

    Which Nature’s works through all their parts proclaim.

“Well applied, Bertha. In every department of nature we find sufficient
proofs of that omnipotence and goodness. The astonishing force of an
unseen agent, like the wind, comes home indeed to the feelings at this
moment, and leads one to reflect on its wonderful causes and its
beneficial effects; but when we view with the astronomer the countless
stars and the regular movement of the planets in their orbits; or, with
the chemist, trace the infinite variety of matter up to the different
proportions in which a few elementary substances are combined; or if we
examine the microscopic perfection of the commonest of these flowers; or
the young leaves already formed and wrapped up for months in the buds;
or the beautiful preparation of hard scales and downy net-work for the
preservation of the young plant inclosed in the seeds,--the mind is
absolutely lost in admiration!

    I read His awful name emblazoned high,
    With golden letters on the illumined sky,
    Nor less the mystic characters I see
    Wrought in each flower, inscribed on every tree;
    In every leaf that trembles in the breeze,
    I hear the voice of God among the trees.”

_20th._--For some days past, the rooks have been very busy, building
their nests.--There are a few tall trees near this, which stand in a
clump apart from the rest; Frederick says that the rooks have a fancy
for them, and build there year after year. No creatures seem to be more
attached to the place where they have lived; nor can any be more
sociable, as they generally place several nests together. But their
sociable disposition does not imply honesty towards each other; for
when a pair are constructing their nest, one always remains to guard it
while the other goes in search of materials, lest it might be pillaged
by the neighbouring rooks. Frederick and I observed a transaction of
this nature to-day; and it caused a great uproar, for the crime is
always punished by expelling the thieves from the society.

White of Selborne says, they depart on foraging excursions in the
morning, and return in the evening; and that, after the young have taken
wing, there is a general desertion of the nest trees; but he says the
families return in October, to repair their dwellings.

Among their favourite food is the grub of the chaffer-beetle, which, if
allowed to multiply, would lay waste the corn-fields and meadows;--and
yet how many mistaken people accuse these poor rooks of doing mischief!

Frederick contrived to get one of them to shew me, that I might know how
to distinguish them from other species of the crow family. The rook is
black, tail somewhat rounded, plumage glossy, the bill is more straight
and slender, and its base is encircled by a naked white skin which is
scaly, and takes the place of those black projecting feathers or
bristles, which, in the other species of crow, extend as far as the
opening of the nostrils.

Rooks, I am told, are birds of passage in France, but in England they
are stationary. In Siberia, they are the forerunners of summer; and in
France, they announce the approach of winter.

Now that they are busy building their nests, they make a noisy, hoarse
cawing, which I have not yet persuaded myself to like; but it is
agreeable to Mary and Caroline--I suppose, because it is united in their
minds with the idea of spring.

_21st._--After sitting a little time with my aunt, who, I am delighted
to tell you, is much better, I had a botanising walk with Miss Perceval.
What a very agreeable companion she is!

She told me that few countries, so limited in extent, comprise such a
variety of plants as the British islands. Yet few of them are peculiar
to these countries: those of our southern districts may be almost all
found in France and Germany; those of Scotland are nearly common with
the productions of Sweden and Denmark; and our elevated hills supply a
vegetation similar to that of Norway and Lapland. The climate of Ireland
varies so little from that of the corresponding parts of England and
Scotland, that there is scarcely any difference in their native plants.
She mentioned, however, two; the _menziesia polifolia_, or St. Patrick’s
heath, and the _saxifraga geum_, with its varieties, which are found
wild in Ireland only. I reminded her of the arbutus, but she seemed to
doubt that it is a native of Killarney, which surprised me, as you told
me that it was; and my uncle expressed the same opinion lately. On the
contrary, she is inclined to believe the tradition, that the Monks of
Mucross Abbey introduced it there from Spain--for, she says, trees are
seldom found, in a state of nature, confined to one spot only: and it is
well known that the arbutus does not grow naturally in any other part of
Ireland; it grows, however, abundantly on all the shores of Spain, and
from thence she thinks it may have been originally brought.

She gave me a very satisfactory reason why the native vegetable
productions of Great Britain are inferior in number to those of
countries on the continent; few seeds are furnished with the means of
flying across the Channel so as to have naturalised themselves here.
Where no sea intervenes, they are gradually but continually spreading
from one place to another. On the road sides and in the corn-fields of
France, Germany, and Holland, we see many plants which have been
imported for our gardens; even in the Flora Danica there are many
belonging to that small country, which are not possessed by us; and all
the mountainous regions of Europe, though separated by a great distance,
have several species in common, while we can boast of very few which are
found in Great Britain only.

Miss P. told me, however, of some; for instance, the Isle of Man cabbage
has not yet been observed in any other parts of the world than in that
island, in the Hebrides, and on the north-western shores of England and
Scotland. One of the most interesting of our British plants, she says,
is pipewort; for in no part of the continent of Europe is it, or any
individual of this genus, to be found; and, what is very remarkable,
though all the other species of the family are inhabitants of the
tropics, yet ours is found in one of the most northern of the Hebrides,
and in a lake which is peculiarly cold.

It is the same among the _cryptogamous_ tribes, such as lichens, fungi,
and mosses. Though we think Britain rich in that extensive class, most
of them are known in other parts of Europe, or in North America; and she
says it is a singular fact, that the lower we descend in the scale of
vegetation, the more universally are the individuals of those tribes
dispersed over the surface of the globe. In Carolina, for example, a
large proportion of the _fungi_ are the same with those of France and
Germany, while among what she calls the _phenogamous_ plants, or those
which have _visible flowers_, there are scarcely any that are common to

The _mosses_ too, which have been received from the higher parts of
North America, and from Kamtschatka, are almost all indigenous in

_22nd._--I had often wished to see the contents of a set of nice little
drawers under the book-cases on one side of the library; at last, to my
great satisfaction, I have been allowed to examine the small geological
collection which they contain. It consists of specimens of the different
_series_ of rocks, accompanied by the organic remains which distinguish

My uncle first shewed us some bits of hornblende, primary limestone,
mica-slate, and granite, as specimens of the inferior order, or ancient
primitive rocks, destitute of all organic remains, and having something
of a crystalline appearance.

Next he shewed us the drawers containing the transition or submedial
series, including grey wackè, transition limestone, quartz, common
slate, and serpentine; they contain some specimens of the lowest scale
of organized beings, such as zoophytes, madrepores, and testacea, but
very sparingly, and all different from those now known.

Then came the medial order, or carboniferous rocks of old red sandstone,
mountain limestone, and all the parallel strata of coal, slate-clay, and
freestone, which he calls _coal measures_. He shewed us abundant remains
in them of animals, but very few of which have any resemblance to
existing species. Some of the limestone or marble specimens were
polished on one side, so as to shew their beautiful veins and colours.
On several bits of the coal and black slate, I saw the impression of
leaves, branches, and seeds, but no shells, or any kind of animal
remains: there was one perfect fern leaf, but my uncle says, of an
unknown family, and a great many reeds. There was also, a flat block of
greyish freestone, on which the regular scales of some seed vessel, like
a very large fir cone, were deeply marked; and on another, I am sure I
could distinctly trace the imbricated form and the spines of the common
prickly pear of the Brazils. Indeed, my uncle thinks that all these
vegetable remains seem nearly allied to the plants of tropical climates;
and he says, it would be a most interesting employment for some
naturalist to devote himself to the study of what might be called
_subterranean botany_. These coal measures occupy several drawers; for
besides the Staffordshire, Newcastle, and other coals, he has specimens
of the seventeen coal beds of the forest of Dean, and a large collection
of their organic remains, which he has taken great pains in arranging.

The next drawers contain the supermedial series, beginning with the
magnesian limestone, new red sandstone, and red marl. There are very
large districts of this formation in the central parts of England, and
they include the great deposits of rock-salt, which is of so much
importance, he says, to the empire. Considerable beds of gypsum are also
found; but it contains no organic remains of either animals or
vegetables. Above these,--for you no doubt have perceived what I forgot
to mention, that my uncle began at his lowest drawer, in order to shew
the lowest strata first,--above these, he showed me a collection of the
lias and oolite strata, both of them impure limestones, but extremely
rich in the number and variety of organic remains. These consist of
ferns and flags, corals and zoophytes, shells of all kinds, univalve,
bivalve, and multivalve; ammonites of all sizes, fishes of several
species, and turtles and other amphibia unlike any of the species now
known. To one of these amphibia has been given the name ichthyosaurus,
which, my uncle says, means the fish-like lizard; it having the head of
a crocodile and the back bone of a shark; he has only a small specimen,
which stands over the book-case, but he says some have been found in the
lias near Lyme, in Dorsetshire, three or four feet in length. And he
told me that at Stonesfield, near Woodstock, in Oxfordshire, the fossil
remains of another extraordinary animal of the amphibious tribes was
discovered, which has been called the monitor; no complete skeleton of
it has yet been put together, but many of the detached parts must have
belonged to an animal forty feet long, and twelve feet high!

The remainder of this numerous series consists of different strata of
sands and clays, and various limestones, up to the chalk formation; and
they contain a repetition of the fossils he shewed me in the lower
parts of it. He frequently made me observe, that these fossils are all
not only very widely distinguished from the families found in the
carboniferous and transition series, but that there are also striking
peculiarities in themselves according to the bed which they occupy.

We came next to the great chalk formation, with its wonderful deposition
of flints in parallel layers; and then to the last, or superior order,
consisting of gravel or sand, or of clay, which is in some places four
or five hundred feet thick, and resting on the chalk. Its organic
remains are highly interesting; but my uncle said he would not perplex
our memories at present, by a minute examination of the specimens in his
collection; he wished to give us general ideas, hereafter we may study
the particulars. Before he closed his drawers, he shewed us, that below
this upper formation all the remains of organic bodies were in a
petrified or mineralized state; that is, the general structure and
external form of the body has been preserved, but the original matter of
which it was composed has entirely disappeared, and has been replaced by
the substance of the mineral in which it was imbedded. On the contrary,
in the strata which cover the chalk, the shells are merely preserved,
and in such a state, that when the clay or sand in which they lie is
washed off, they might appear quite recent, if they had not lost their
colour and become more brittle. My uncle shewed us a few specimens of
these, and also of some shells, which he says are peculiar to _fresh_
water, but which are often found in alternate layers with the _marine_
shells, as if they had been deposited by alternate inundations of fresh
and salt water. And lastly, he shewed us some of the shells found in a
horizontal stratum of gravel on the coasts of Essex and Suffolk, about
fifty feet above the sea, which are exactly the same with the shells at
present existing in the sea on the same coast. Above all these regular
strata, he says, there is in many places spread a confused covering of
gravel, apparently formed by the action of a deluge, which had shattered
and rounded the fragments of the rocks over which its torrents had

In this gravel the remains of numerous land quadrupeds are found; many
of them of species now unknown, such as the mastodon, and mammoth or
fossil elephant, with varieties of the hyæna, bear, rhinoceros, and elk,
but indiscriminately mingled with others, which still exist in the

I have taken a good deal of pains to acquire a clear idea of this order
of the strata, with their vegetable and animal remains. My uncle did not
shew them all at one time, we went over them by degrees, a little every
day; but I have just summed them up altogether, to give you an idea of
what I have seen.

_24th, Good Friday._--Before we went to church to-day, my uncle spoke to
us for a short time on the solemn event we were going to commemorate;
and though my notes of what he said can be of little use to you, yet I
am anxious to shew my dear mamma that I take still more pains to profit
by what he tells us on this most important subject, than upon Geology or
any thing else.

“You are all too well acquainted with Scripture,” said he, “not to know
that the lesson which it everywhere inculcates, is, that man by sin and
disobedience had fallen under the displeasure of his Maker, and that
there was an invincible necessity, however inexplicable to our
comprehension, that our Saviour should lay down his life to redeem us
from that sin, and to procure for repentant sinners forgiveness and

“That the death of Christ was the real and efficient sacrifice, of which
the various offerings under the law were but the types or shadows, is
evident from a crowd of passages in Holy Writ to which I have repeatedly
drawn your attention. But as if to prevent the possibility of doubt on
the subject, St. Paul emphatically tells the Hebrews that the High
Priest entering into the Holy of Holies with the annual sin-offering
was only ‘a figure for the time then present.’ And he distinctly adds,
that Christ, not ‘by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own
blood, obtained eternal redemption for us.’

“The promise made to our first parents intimated a future deliverer, who
should remove those evils which had been entailed on mankind by their
misconduct. This was the assurance that became to the Israelites the
grand object of their faith; and it was to perpetuate this fundamental
article of their hope and belief, that a standing memorial both of the
fall and of the promised deliverance was appointed. Now, what memorial
could be more apposite, than that of _animal sacrifice_?--It connected
in one view the two great events in the moral history of man, the Fall,
and the Recovery: the death denounced against sin, and the death
appointed for that Holy Intercessor whose blood was to be accepted as a
final atonement.

“How true it is, that the ways and thoughts of God are not like those of

“Wonderful in every part of it, but chiefly in the last acts of it, was
the awful scene of this stupendous expiation. That the author of life
should himself be made subject to death--that his sufferings and
humiliation should be the manifestation of his glory--that by stooping
to death he should conquer death;--and that the height of human malice
should but accomplish the purposes of God’s mercy!

“If you compare the whole chain of prophecies with the history of our
Lord’s sufferings, you will find that it was not until they were
fulfilled to the minutest point, that the patient Son of God, as if then
at liberty to depart, said ‘It is finished.’--Yes, all that the wicked
were destined to contribute to the general deliverance was finished.

“We cannot understand the mysteries of God; but we may easily perceive
his goodness. We cannot discover his motives, but we have no difficulty
in discovering his will. We cannot comprehend the actions of Providence,
or the moral government of the universe; but we can have no uncertainty
about the laws which should govern our own actions--they are clearly and
forcibly stated in the Gospel; all that it imports a sinful being to
know, to believe, or to do, all that concerns our fall and our
redemption, everything that involves the greatest interests of the human
race, is there unfolded. We cannot penetrate that inscrutable decree
which rendered it unfit to pardon sin without vicarious atonement; but
we may form some faint conception of the immense sacrifice that Christ
made for us, in order to satisfy Eternal Justice. From the horror with
which he contemplated his approaching death, and from the agony with
which he prayed that the cup of bitterness might pass from him, we may
surely infer that his sufferings were of no ordinary nature--that
the sacrifice was, indeed, great. Yet in the depth of his
anguish, his prayer was one of perfect resignation and devout
humility--‘Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.’

“Let us then learn, from his great example, how and where to seek for
consolation when misfortune or misery overtakes us; let us pour forth
our petitions with the same fervour as he did; and let us bow with the
same submission in our hearts to the decrees of unerring wisdom.”

_25th._--My excellent aunt came down stairs yesterday evening, and this
bright cheering day she took a little walk with my uncle. Grace and I
had the pleasure of accompanying them. Every thing seemed to sympathise
with her recovery--all nature seemed to be reviving--buds opening, and
young leaves bursting out; many branches of hawthorn in sheltered places
quite green, and the young elms feathered with their pretty opening
leaves. The glades in the forest were carpeted with primroses--the birds
were building in every bush, and singing as they worked; the lambs were
sporting about, and the pastures beginning to shew the little cheerful

    The lambkin crops its crimson gem,
      The wild bee murmurs on its breast,
    The blue fly bends its pensile stem
      Light o’er the skylark’s nest.

Grace repeated that pretty stanza of Montgomery’s; and when I asked her
if she knew what was meant by “its crimson gem,” she replied, “Yes,
Mamma told me that the buds of trees are called gems, from the Latin
word _gemma_.” My uncle added that here the term is poetically applied
to the flowers while yet unclosed--though it is only leaf-buds to which
botanists give that name.

I begged of my uncle to shew me the difference between the oats and
wheat; for though there is a great difference in their appearance when
in ear, yet I had not learned to distinguish the young plants.

My uncle pulled up a plant of each, and shewed me that the oat shoots
upwards, with scarcely more than two leaves, which are much rounder at
the end than those of wheat; but that the plant of wheat produces three
or four pointed leaves, which, instead of being directed upwards, are,
at first, inclined to spread. After my aunt had returned home, we walked
into some of Farmer Moreland’s fields. He is very busy sowing late
oats, and planting potatoes in drills, which are made with as much
regularity, and the seeds dropped in as equally, as if the distances had
been measured by compasses.

The bees have been about for some days, a sure mark, my aunt says, of
the arrival of spring. They began to venture out of their hives about
the middle of this month; and their coming abroad is a sign that the
flowers from which they gather honey are already opening.

The gooseberry trees are growing green, and I can distinguish the
flower-buds enlarging daily; so are those of the currant, which in
autumn I saw closely folded up in little scaly buds. The larch trees are
shewing their gay green tinge, the spurge laurel is in bloom; and every
tree, and plant, and bird, are rapidly advancing toward the perfection
of summer.

I said to my aunt this evening, that I thought the appearance of all
nature wakening, as it were, from the torpor or death of winter, seemed
to be peculiarly suitable to the hopes of that glorious change in
ourselves which this period so forcibly brings to our minds. She
replied, that it was one of those striking points of connexion between
natural and revealed religion which must make a deep impression on every
reflecting mind; and she agreed with me that nothing could afford a
better subject for a hymn.

_26th, Easter Day._--As soon as breakfast was over, my uncle said he was
going to address a few words to us on the great Christian festival which
we were going to celebrate.

“It is most satisfactory,” said he, “to know that whether we consider
the number, the means of information, or the veracity of the witnesses,
no testimony can surpass that which was borne by the Apostles to the
fact of our Lord’s resurrection.

“That wonderful event was the accomplishment both of the ancient
prophecies, and of his own predictions; it was a miraculous declaration
on the part of God, that the great atonement was accepted; it was the
Divine attestation to the truth of our Saviour’s doctrines; a full
confirmation of the promises he had already held out to his followers,
and consequently a perfect security to them for the ultimate completion
of those further promises which it had been one great object of his
mission to offer to mankind. We have reason, therefore, to be thankful
that, in the first preaching of the Gospel, Providence ordained that a
fact of such importance should be accompanied with irresistible
evidence; evidence of such a nature as requires no nice examination to
adjust, but such as imparts conviction to every one who can read the

“The Jews were disappointed that Jesus did not shew his power by coming
down from the cross; but he shewed his power more fully, by rising from
the grave. They saw him taken dead from that cross, and laid in a
sepulchre, which was scooped out of the rock, which was accessible only
at the entrance, and which was guarded by sixty soldiers. Yet while the
soldiers watched, he burst those feeble barriers, and rose from his
tomb, to shew his followers that those who die in Him shall rise, as he
did, to triumph over death.

“After his resurrection,” continued my uncle, “there was a wonderful
change in our Lord. Previously to this event, it was in power, and in
wisdom, that he had shewed himself divine; but afterwards, every thing
concerning him seems miraculous and mysterious. This first appears in
the manner of his resurrection. He evidently had left the sepulchre
before it was opened; the women who are named by St. Matthew, saw the
angel appear, and roll away the stone; but he was already gone. ‘To Mary
Magdalene,’ he said, ‘touch me not,’ as if there was that divine
spirituality about his person which forbade the near approach of human
frailty. And twice, when his disciples were assembled and the doors
fastened, for fear of the Jews, he appeared in the midst of them; but to
Him who had departed from the unopened sepulchre, it was no difficulty
to enter a barricadoed house. From these, and other concurring
circumstances, it is evident that his body had undergone a change, ‘the
corruptible had put on incorruption;’ it was no longer the human body in
its mortal state--it was the body raised to life and immortality, and
united to the Deity.

“There was something about this divinity of his person, that was
probably unsuitable to a more open display of himself to the public than
he vouchsafed to make. He shewed himself, however, to all the Apostles;
‘he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once;’ in short, there
were sufficient witnesses to attest his identity, and to publish the
truth of his miraculous resurrection to all mankind. The Jewish people,
in the rejection of our Lord, had filled the measure of their guilt;
they had no further claim on him, and he no longer held his visible
residence among them. When led to the cross, he had warned them that
they would see him no more till they should be prepared to acknowledge
his authority.

“The resurrection of our Saviour ensures resurrection to us also; it
ensures to us a second life; but the complexion of that life depends on
our faith, and our obedience in this. He ‘will change our vile body,
that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body;’ but this
transformation of our being requires a previous transformation of our

“It is true that, as nothing has been distinctly communicated to us on
the mode of existence after our resurrection, we can know but little of
the precise nature of that future life; but there may be more analogy in
it to our present state than we can now venture to affirm. There is some
reason to believe that the employments of the good and wise, and the
chief sources of their happiness in this world, have more or less
relation to those which they are to enjoy in the world to come. The
study of nature, the pursuit of knowledge, and the exercise of our
faculties, when controlled by religion and virtue, may all, perhaps,
assist in qualifying us for occupations and enjoyments in the ‘kingdom
of the Father,’ infinitely more excellent and refined indeed, yet not
entirely dissimilar.

“But whatever view we take of the mode of our future existence, it must
revive and invigorate our minds to feel that the evidence of the
resurrection of mankind is full and complete; and that we may,
therefore, look forward, with perfect confidence, beyond these clouded
scenes of mortality, to their final result. Let us now go, my children,
and during the solemn service of this day, let us turn our eyes forward
to that permanent happiness that we are taught to expect as the fruits
of the discipline and vicissitudes experienced in the present life--and
now, and always, let us keep our minds steadily and gratefully fixed on
that glorious consummation of immortality, which our Lord has purchased
for us, by his death and resurrection.”

_27th._--A new world of knowledge has opened to me, dear mamma, since my
uncle began to teach us a little geology. I know it is but an outline,
the slightest sketch, as he says, of the science; but it is sufficient
to give a general idea of the strata near the surface of the globe; and
the specimens of the different series have made all he told us doubly
impressive. He has no beautiful minerals and crystals, as they are very
expensive, and not so instructive as his rock collection. Indeed, he
considers his children in all that he does; and these drawers were, I
believe, arranged purposely for their benefit.

He shewed us this morning another class of substances imbedded in the
secondary strata; these are the pebbles or broken fragments of rocks
which they are often found to contain, and which have evidently belonged
to strata older than themselves. For instance, new red sandstone
frequently contains pieces of the carboniferous limestone belonging to
the order next below it, as well as of many still older rocks: it is, in
fact, nothing but a mass of sand and gravel cemented together; and which
sand and gravel are only the remains, or _debris_ as they are called, of
former rocks. My uncle says we may conclude, from this fact, that the
rocks from which those fragments were derived must have been exposed to
the action of violently agitated water, which tore off these masses, and
rounded them by friction, before the newer rock, in which the fragments
are now imbedded, was formed.--Another conclusion he draws from it, is
this: these rocks were undoubtedly at some former period, beds of loose
gravel; but loose gravel could never have been left by the water piled
up in a highly inclined slope: we may therefore be sure, when new
sandstone and other rocks of the same kind are found in nearly vertical
strata, that this cannot have been their original situation, but that
they must have been forced into their present position by some
convulsion _after_ their consolidation. These consolidated gravel beds
are called conglomerates, breccias, or pudding-stones, according to the
materials of which they are composed.

He told us that the remains of marine animals, such as we saw the other
day, are found in two-thirds of the rocks that compose the surface of
the globe; and even on the highest summit of the Pyrenean mountains in
Europe, and of the Andes in America. From this important fact, it is
ascertained, without the possibility of doubt, that those continents
have not only been covered by the ocean, but that they are formed of
materials which once gradually collected at the bottom of that ocean.

A long conversation followed, but I cannot trust myself to write it; it
principally turned on the wonderful changes that have taken place in the
level of the ocean. What extraordinary causes could have lowered it to
its present level, or else have raised up the land out of its bosom?--If
the land has really subsided, what can have become of the enormous
quantity of water which once flowed round the tops of the loftiest
mountains? These questions, he said, have long engaged the attention of
philosophers, and many ingenious theories and fanciful suppositions have
been advanced to solve them. He slightly mentioned some of them; but
merely to gratify our curiosity, strongly advising us to repress our
anxiety about causes till we were in possession of facts.


“_Loghouse, April 5th._--You can scarcely conceive, when I saw your
handwriting, the thrill of delight it gave me--your letter was a real
feast--I could not sleep that night, from the fulness of my head and

       *       *       *       *       *

“The snow, I am told, continues later this year than usual; in some
places it was three feet deep, and is still deep, though it has gone
off rapidly within the last fortnight, as it thaws a little every day,
while the sun is hot.

“The buds are all swelling, and I have heard one or two new birds of
late--but they stay up in the high trees, and I have not been able to
see them. We have numbers of dear little tomtits, and some sparrows and
crows. I used to despise all these at home, but here I delight in them,
they are like old acquaintances. When we first came here, I heard an
eagle very often, but he has deserted us.

“I am surprised at the nice green herbage that is under the snow; by
which, and the decayed leaves, it has been preserved from the frost. The
children bring in plants every day; the mosses and lichens are all quite
new to me.

“The deep snow has much delayed the clearing of our land; next week we
are to have five men here to cut down trees, _choppers_ as they are
called; we have one at present, and it is astonishing with what
dexterity and speed he fells these huge hemlock pines, nearly one
hundred feet high. It is almost sublime to see them stoop their dark
heads slowly, and then fall; very gradually at first, but soon
increasing in rapidity--tearing off the neighbouring branches, shaking
all the other trees, and coming down with a crash that makes the whole
forest echo the sound. The Americans from the United States are employed
to _chop_, as they are more expert than people from the old country,
and can make the trees take the precise direction they choose in

“We are much better off than most people are on first settling in the
woods. There are some families here, who for the first six months had no
food of any kind, except salt pork, for breakfast, dinner and supper,
and without even bread; but we have good bread and peas, and sometimes
turnips, with excellent milk. We brought barley and rice with us; and
the arrow-root that you gave me is a great comfort to the children;--I
never saw three more healthy creatures.

       *       *       *       *       *

“_May 2nd._--Last week we were busily engaged in burning the fallen
trees, which covered the surface of the ground that we had cleared.

“The branches were first piled up and burned; then the great stems,
which had been cut into pieces about twelve feet long, were drawn
together by the oxen, and with much labour raised into piles, and set on
fire. This was a very dangerous operation, for some of them were very
near our wooden house; and the whole surface of the ground is
combustible, as for several inches deep it is composed of leaves and
bark, and looks like a bed of peat earth. When this takes fire the
flames rapidly spread, and are very difficult to extinguish; but we are
now safe.

“The Indians sometimes walk into our house; but they are harmless and
inoffensive, and ask only for whiskey, which they like better than any
thing else. They bring baskets, and little bowls, and dishes made of the
bark of the birch-tree, and are glad to sell them for spirits, flour, or
pork. They come down the river in their canoes, and can paddle them
across the rapids just opposite this house, where no European could
venture in a boat.

       *       *       *       *       *

“_June 5th._--Our first spring flowers were hepaticas, which actually
carpeted the ground as daisies do at home; they were single, but very
large, and blue, pink, and white. We had the pretty yellow dog-tooth
violets in profusion; then white and crimson lilies; both of them
handsome, but with an odious smell: there was another very
elegant-looking plant, with a leaf like fumitory, the root a collection
of reddish bulbs, and the flower something like a butterfly orchis.

       *       *       *       *       *

“We have now abundance of yellow, white, and purple violets, but the
white only have a sweet smell. There is also a beautiful yellow lady’s
slipper, and numerous other flowers, which I may describe some other

“Our shrubs are leatherwood, cranberry, dog-wood, Alpine honeysuckle
without scent, and syringa. The trees are elm, maple, oak, beech,
cedar, hemlock pine, hiccory, and lime. The oak grows tall and straight;
but all the trees grow tall and straight in these forests. I spend what
time I can spare in examining the trees and plants that are new to me; I
wish my botanical friend Miss Perceval was here to assist me.--We have a
great deal of the moss, or rather the tillandsia, about which you
inquire; it hangs from almost every tree, and we saw it in quantities
along the banks of the St. Lawrence, before we reached Quebec. The
captain of our vessel told us it was used in the States to stuff beds;
and that he had carried some home to his wife for the same purpose.

       *       *       *       *       *

“_July 1st._--I must give you a sketch of the manner in which we pass
our time. Mr. * * * goes out at five, and returns to breakfast at seven;
he then works at his farm till twelve, when dinner is ready; after which
he rests some time, and again works till eight, when I summon him to
coffee. Household cares and preparations occupy me all the morning, and
teaching the children, and working for them, the rest of the day. After
they go to bed I have a nice hour for writing or reading.

“It is the custom for the ladies in this country to dress in the morning
very plainly, and suited to the hard work in which we must all take a
part; after dinner they put on silk gowns and smart caps, and either go
out to pay visits, or stay at home to receive them. But we live in such
perfect solitude in these woods, that we have no neighbours to go to, or
to expect here. We are going on as yet with smiling prospects, and doing
something every day that tends to our comfort; but we must be contented
to advance very slowly.

“In spite of every effort, my thoughts too often turn to dear _home_ and
to former times, or sometimes they take a far stretch forward; but these
are only airy visions which I do not encourage. Yet I cannot help
praying that we may be permitted to meet again in a few years. I fear
setting my heart too much on this, but I trust to the support of
Providence under every disappointment, and under every trial. Trials we
must have in all places, still more in these dreary woods.”

       *       *       *       *       *

_29th._--I heard lately that several of those greenhouse plants which
are natives of swamps, if planted in a pond, the bottom of which never
freezes, would grow as well as if in their own country: I have therefore
asked permission to try this experiment, and my aunt let me have a plant
of the long-leaved _amaryllis_, and one of the Ethiopian _calla_. We
broke the pots they were in, that the roots might not be disturbed, and
then put them into small open baskets, with a fresh compost round them.
My uncle had places made in the bottom of the pond, which is about two
feet deep, and the baskets were plunged into them, and the soil at the
bottom drawn close round.

The gardener thinks the salt dross has been effectual in destroying the
wire-worm in my carnation beds; so last week he added a small quantity
of sharp sand, and then the beds were dug, and raked nicely for
planting. Yesterday and this morning I have been busy planting out my
layers, and as I stirred the ground with my scoop trowel, I could
perceive no traces of my old enemies.

A few weeks ago I raked off half the layer of peat earth, with which I
had covered my ixia, gladiolus, and oxalis beds, to preserve them from
the frosts; I have now raked off the other half, and the beds being
carefully forked up, I hope in May to have some nice flowers there.

This is a most busy time in the garden, forking and dressing the
borders, mending the edgeings, earthing up peas and beans--continually
watching and defending the blossoms of the wall fruit, pruning trees,
preparing hot-beds, and sowing cauliflower, lettuce, onion, broccoli,
radishes, &c. &c., and in _our_ garden, planting out flowers and
removing offsets; dressing and protecting the beds of spring flowers
that are going to blossom, and sowing sundry annuals. In short,
everything is alive, and everybody anxious not to lose a moment while
the weather is so favourable.

_30th._--I have been reading all the accounts I could find of ants; and
am surprised to find how many curious circumstances there are in the
history of some of the species of this country, and of France.

Frederick knew where there was an ant-hill, and took me there, when they
began to revive on a sunny day, a few weeks since. We observed numbers
coming out of the ground, as if roused by the warmth, and assembling in
crowds on the top of their nest; they were in continual motion, walking
over it and even over one another, and yet without quitting the spot.
This lasted for a few days, and then they began to repair the upper
stories of their dwelling, which had been spoiled by rain and snow. We
frequently watch them, and they appear to be incessantly engaged at this
work till it is quite dark.

They certainly give us an example of perseverance; but their foresight
in laying up a store of grain for winter is now considered to be an
unfounded idea; for they are nearly torpid during the winter, and do not
require provisions. May it not be said, however, that they shew
forethought and contrivance in regard to their friends the aphides,
which I mentioned sometime ago in my journal?

The yellow ant, for instance, which seldom leaves its home, and likes to
have its comforts within reach, usually collects in its nest a large
_herd_ of a kind of aphis, that derives its nutriment from the roots of
grass. These are conveyed by subterranean galleries into the nest, so
that, without going out, it has a constant supply of food. The ants
bestow as much care on these little milch-cows as on their own
offspring, and pay particular attention to their eggs, moistening them
with their tongue, carrying them tenderly in their mouth, and placing
them in the sun to be hatched. When Frederick opened one of the
ant-hills, we observed a parcel of these little black eggs very near the
surface; and the ants were so distressed at our visit, that they
immediately began to carry the eggs to the inside of the nest. By
hatching these eggs early, they provide future food for their own
families; and I am sure that is shewing forethought. This aphis yields a
great quantity of that sweet fluid of which the ants are so fond; it
flows from two hair-like tubes, placed one on each side, and the ants,
who watch for the moment when it is ready, suck it down immediately. It
is said, that the ants can make the aphides yield this fluid at any
time by patting them with their antennæ; and when they have milked one
of their little cows, they go to another.

As to all the varieties of the tropical ants, the inhabitants of South
America know but too much of them already; but I must tell you of a use
to which, in another country, their nests have been applied, and which
you could scarcely have guessed. In the southern part of Africa, they
raise solid nests of clay, in shape like a baker’s oven. The Caffres,
when first permitted to settle at Gnadenthal, one of the Moravina
settlements, converted these tumuli into ovens. Having expelled the
inhabitants by smoke, they scooped them out hollow, leaving a crust of a
few inches in thickness; and then used them for baking their loaves. The
clay of which these nests are formed is so well prepared by those
industrious animals, that it is used for floors of rooms by the
Hottentots, and even by the Dutch farmers.


       *       *       *       *       *




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[A] Numbers vi. 24, 25, 26.

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